Denmark on Thursday called off an international fencing event in protest against a decision by the sport’s global governing body to allow Russian and Belarusian fencers to return to international competition.
The move to cancel the second-tier under-23s competition planned for October was taken reluctantly, the head of the Danish fencing federation said.
“It is with a heavy heart that we make this decision but we cannot support the return of Russian and Belarusian fencers to the pistes during the ongoing circumstances,” Jan Sylvest Jensen told AFP in a statement.
The ruling by the International Fencing Federation (FIE) earlier this month made it the first Olympic sport to reopen its events to athletes from Russia and ally Belarus.
It sparked outrage in Ukraine and a hard-hitting letter from more than 300 active and former fencers demanding Olympic chief Thomas Bach — who won Olympic fencing team gold in 1976 — uphold the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Athletes from both countries have faced differing sanctions from a multitude of sports since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.
The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday recommended to sports federations and events organisers that Russian and Belarusian athletes return to competition “only” as individuals under a neutral flag.
The Danish fencing federation said the situation was a “mess” following the decision to allow the return of fencers from the two countries.
“We also predict chaos at the international competition since fencers will probably refuse to fence with Russian and Belarussian fencers,” Sylvest Jensen said.
“What a mess.”
It’s not the first event to be scrapped following the FIE’s decision.
The German fencing federation has already cancelled a planned women’s foil International Fencing Federation World Cup competition.
A gateway to the World Cup, the Trekanten International event had been scheduled for October 7 and 8 in the capital Copenhagen.
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