MESSAGE FROM EFC ATHLETES
We, as elite fencers, part of the European Fencing Confederation would like to share our disappointment by the recent decision of the International Olympic Committee to recommend the return of Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete as neutrals to international fencing competitions.
Ideally, sports should be free from politics and conflict. However, given the wellknown function of elite sports as a tool of domestic propaganda in Russia, it makes absolutely no difference whether a Russian or Belarussian fencer participates under the term “neutral athlete”. Especially in fencing, as everyone knows, it is impossible to separate a fencer from their country of representation on the international level.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and their right to peace and stability, firmly condemning this war, causing immense human suffering and tragedy, with no end in sight. Far from their country and their families, Ukraine athletes are trying to continue their training in different parts of the world with great emotional difficulty. The unfairness of the situation is immense.
Moreover, as an indirect consequence of IOC's decision several nationalities will not be able to participate in the world cup competitions due to their state-mandated boycotts. Especially at the beginning of the Olympic qualifier year, this could very well mean the end of a fencer’s career. Allowing such makes the previously noble sport of fencing morally inferior, with long-lasting negative impact to the image of our dear sport.
We call on the European Fencing Confederation and all international sports organizations to support the decision to resume the ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes from international competitions until the conflict is resolved.