The second of five women’s foil World Cup events should have been held in early May in Tauberbischofsheim, in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg. But, Thursday, March 16, the German Fencing Federation announced that it was renouncing to host the event, which counts for the qualifications for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (OG). In question: the decision taken a few days earlier by the International Federation fencing (FIE) to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate again in its competitions.
On March 10, the FIE was the first body to officially speak out on this delicate subject – athletes from both countries having been banned from international sport in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by troops from the Kremlin, with the assistance of Minsk, on February 24, 2022. A decision submitted to the “possible recommendations/decisions » of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but motivated by the sports calendar, the selections for the Olympic Games starting in April for this discipline.
However, argues the German federation through the voice of its president, the former swordswoman Claudia Bokel, Olympic team vice-champion in Athens in 2004, the World Cup stage in Tauberbischofsheim “should have been one of the first to have to apply” this measure, which concerns both individual and team events.
Thus, she explains, if her organization respects the decision of the FIE, she wishes “send a clear signal”. And Claudia Bokel to insist: “We would have liked a different outcome, and in our view there are still many open questions on the implementation of the decision. [de la fédération internationale], which make it impossible to hold the tournament. »
“The right time has not yet come”
On February 28, the number 2 of the German Olympic Committee (DOSB), Torsten Burmester, publicly spoke out against the IOC’s proposal to explore a way to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to the fold of world sport.
The Secretary General, whose remarks had been relayed on the DOSB websitethen pointed out: “From our point of view, the right time has not yet come to allow sportsmen and women with a Russian or Belarusian passport again in international competitions. Acts of war have further intensified in recent weeks [en Ukraine], in particular attacks against civilian populations. »
If Mr. Burmester were to acknowledge, however, that “the discussion is now international” on this subject, he had insisted: We can only imagine reinstatement – if it were to be decided – under very strict conditions. True neutrality must be guaranteed, without flag, national symbol, color and anthem. »
No question of seeing scenes repeat themselves “like in Pyeongchang, Tokyo or Beijing”, where, due to multiple doping scandals, Russia had been suspended. Its athletes, then forced to compete under the “neutral banner” of the Russian Olympic Committee, nevertheless sported the white-blue-red colors of the country.
In a joint letter, following a conference organized on February 11 between sports ministers, some thirty states – including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland and the United States – had asked the IOC to « clarifications » on the neutrality required of Russians and Belarusians conditioning their participation in the 2024 Olympics.