Russian Fencers Reject Olympic Committee’s Conditions for Return to Competition 

May 11, 2023

Russia’s national fencing team on Thursday rejected the “proposed return format” set out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for their return to global competition.

On March 28, the IOC set out a number of conditions for the return of athletes from Russia and Belarus—which allies with Russia in its war against Ukraine—though the committee did not specify the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The conditions included competing under a neutral flag, individually, not having a contract with the Russian army or security services, or having supported the war in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022.

In a posting on Telegram, Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdniakov—whose daughter, Sofia, is a gold medal-winning fencer—said of the country’s fencing team members, “I can say that none of them have considered and are considering the option of participating in international tournaments within the existing restriction.” 

Since Ukraine and dozens of its allies have called for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from Olympic competition for the duration of Russia’s war against its sovereign neighbor, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) was the first global sporting organization to authorize the presence of those two countries’ athletes, specifying in March that it was awaiting the IOC’s recommendations. 

The first qualifying event for the Paris Olympics has already taken place without Russia’s top fencers competing. They’ll also be absent from the men’s and women’s sabre qualifiers this weekend in Georgia and Spain.

At least one nation so far, Norway, has said its fencers would not participate in events where Russian and Belarusian athletes compete.

At least 35 countries including the U.S. have called for Russia and Belarus to be banned from the Paris Olympic Games next year. France is also among those nations.

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