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Fencing-World Cup event cancelled as federation rejects proposal on Russian athletes

WARSAW : A fencing World Cup event in Poland has been cancelled by the local federation after the sport’s international governing body rejected a proposal to make Russian and Belarusian athletes sign a statement opposing the invasion of Ukraine.

The Polish fencing federation (PZS) cancelled the women’s foil World Cup scheduled for April 21-23 in Poznan after the international fencing federation (FIE) reversed a ban on athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus at last month’s extraordinary congress.

“We wanted all players and collaborators who were going to come to our World Cup to sign a statement that they oppose the regime of Vladimir Putin,” PZS general secretary Jacek Slupski told Reuters on Friday.

“That they oppose the aggression of Russia and Belarus against Ukraine and they are not current professional soldiers nor do they work in any other security organs of either of these countries.

“Unfortunately, the International Fencing Federation has rejected our internal procedures, it did not allow any internal procedures to be used, only to comply with the procedures set by the world federation. This is unacceptable to us.”

The FIE decision prompted Ukraine’s fencing federation (NFFU) to say it would boycott all events in which Russians and Belarusians were included, while hundreds of fencers publicly opposed the FIE’s decision in an open letter.

Organisers in Germany and Denmark have also cancelled FIE events.

Slupski said they may appeal the FIE Congress’s decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and have received support from other countries.

“We received a lot of warm words and congratulations… from many Western countries, that our attitude was very brave … and that they join our official, tough position,” Slupski said.

“These are mainly Scandinavian countries Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark. We await confirmation from Germany, France. I think Spain, Portugal.

“We do not rule out a joint lawsuit to the court (CAS) in Lausanne and an appeal against the decision of the FIE Congress.”

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