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Poland Cancels Olympic Qualifying Event Over Russian Participation—Here Are The Sports That Still Have Russia Bans


The Polish Fencing Association announced Wednesday it would cancel an Olympic qualifying event because Russian and Belarusian athletes were allowed to participate, as some sports organizations continue to resist allowing athletes from those countries to compete as the Olympics, Wimbledon and other large sports bodies ease restrictions amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Poland announced it would cancel an Olympic qualifier for women’s fencing.

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

A fencing World Cup event for women’s foil was canceled because the International Fencing Federation—the sport’s governing body—lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes last month, according to the Polish Fencing Association.

Other sports organizations are still upholding bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes, including the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which said Russian teams and officials were not allowed to participate in any international events.

The Union Cycliste Internationale—the governing body for sports cycling—has banned Russian and Belarusian cyclists from participating on teams representing their countries—though they can still compete as “neutral” athletes.

The International Ice Hockey Federation determined that it would uphold its ban on Russian and Belarusian teams last month, noting that teams from either country were prohibited from participating in its upcoming championships and tournaments.

World Rugby suspended Russia and Belarus from all “international rugby and cross-border rugby activities,” prohibiting Russia’s participation in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.


Some sports organizations have decided against banning Russian and Belarusian athletes, including the men’s and women’s tennis tours and tournaments, with the U.S. Open saying last year it would allow them to enter the tennis tournament in order to not hold “the individual athletes accountable for the actions and decisions of their governments.” Wimbledon had been the one outlier in 2022, but announced last month it would allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete this year as long as they remain “neutral” about the war in Ukraine. The World Taekwondo Council, which also previously banned athletes from both countries, announced they would allow them to participate in order to match Olympic standards.

Crucial Quote

A letter sent to the International Olympic Committee and the International Fencing Federation by more than 300 former and active international fencers called for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to be upheld, suggesting a decision to allow them to participate would be “a catastrophic error.”

Surprising Fact

The Polish fencing event is not the first Olympic qualifying event to be canceled because of Russian participation. The French Fencing Federation announced last month it would cancel a qualifying event in May, complementing an announcement by Germany’s fencing federation canceling an event after it said a decision to allow Russian athletes triggered “heated discussions.”

Key Background

Opposition to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to lift its ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes has increased in recent months. The IOC, which initially banned athletes from both countries from participating in international sporting events, said in a statement last month that their participation at the 2024 Paris Olympics “works” despite Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. IOC President Thomas Bach defended the decision and said Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate “almost every day in a number of sports.” Representatives from 34 nations—including the U.S, the UK and host country France—issued a joint statement in February noting they “do not agree” athletes from either country should be allowed to compete. Some countries have said they would boycott the Olympics, including Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Denmark.

Further Reading

Wimbledon Reverses Ban, Will Let Russian And Belarusian Players Compete (Forbes)

IOC Defends Decision To Allow Russian Athletes At 2024 Olympics—Fencers Protest ‘Catastrophic Error’ (Forbes)

U.S. And 34 Other Nations ‘Do Not Agree’ Russian Athletes Should Be In 2024 Olympics—Boycott Brewing (Forbes)

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