«Sport outside of politics» or the incomprehensible steps of individual international sports federations


The International Fencing Federation (Fédération Internationale d’Escrime or FIE — ed.) forced the US team to remove ribbons in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, depriving foreign athletes of the opportunity to support the Ukrainian people. The incident happened on the stage of the Grand Prix in South Korea. At the same time, Russians and Belarusians were admitted to the tournament.


Neutrality as support for a war in Ukraine

During the Rapier Fencing Grand Prix in Busan, the FIE not only forced the American athletes to remove their blue and yellow ribbons but also banned any anti-war protests. The logic of the Federation’s actions is easy to understand: sports officials allowed Russians and Belarusians who directly or indirectly support the war to compete (the dictatorial regimes will never allow other representatives of these countries to participate in international competitions) and therefore became hostage to their own decision. Due to a large number of potential conflicts, at least at the interpersonal level and in order not to irritate the representatives from the exile countries, some steps must be taken. Perhaps Ukraine should be deprived of the opportunity to perform under the national flag, FIE? To avoid conflicts. After all, the corresponding decision enters into force already from mid-April, 2023.

Ukrainian athlete published an emotional post on Instagram

Representatives of most countries did not understand this shame, and the Ukrainian fencer, medalist, and winner of the Olympic Games, multiple European and world champion, who is inscribed in the FIE international hall of fame, Olga Kharlan expressed her sharp indignation at the position of the International Fencing Federation on her Instagram account. She does not understand how it was possible to make a decision to disqualify Russian and Belarusian athletes at the beginning of the aggressor’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and cancel it after 385 days of the terrible war.

«WHAT HAS CHANGED? Was the war over? NO! Were the occupied territories liberated? NO! Were all the ruined facilities rebuilt? NO! Did the IOC change the recommendation? NO! And now there are lots of “WHY?” Why did the FIE make this decision NOW? Why the FIE is willing to change places of competition in those countries that do not allow [Russian] and [Belarusian] athletes? Why Russian athletes should be allowed to compete, but Ukrainian athletes can’t live, train and travel properly BECAUSE of Ruzzian [Russian] invasion?” — wrote Olga emotionally on her Instagram

Alina Komashchuk, a Ukrainian sabre fencer, 2013 World champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist

The Ukrainian Review spoke with another of our famous fencers, silver medalists of the 2016 Olympics, world champion Alina Komashchuk. She is impressed by the very fact of admitting representatives of the aggressor countries to the competition:

«It offends us, Ukrainians. Now there is a war going on. They should stay at home. Some support the war; some are afraid to speak out against it. It will be unfair to see them on the sports field. Regarding the decision to remove [the ribbons with Ukrainian colors]from American athletes, I hope that those who supported us will continue to support us and also express their protest against the participation of Russians and Belarusians.»

It should be noted that a number of countries have already refused to host fencing competitions due to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in them. Germany was the first to react to the FIE’s scandalous decision. The local federation canceled the Women’s Rapier World Cup, which was scheduled for early May 2023.

DFB President Claudia Boeckel

“As before, we remain in solidarity with the people in Ukraine who are suffering from the war of aggression. The German Fencing Federation now wants to send a clear signal that we would like a different result and that we still see a large number of open questions that make the tournament impossible. As much as we would like to present our best athletes to the German public and give them the opportunity to use the advantage of their home walls on the way to the Olympic Games in Paris, the circumstances force us to make a difficult decision”, – explained DFB President Claudia Boeckel.

France followed Germany’s example. The stage of the World Epee Cup in Saint-Maur-des-Fosse, which was supposed to take place from May 19 to 21 this year, has been canceled.

Jan Sylvest Jensen, Chairman of the Danish Fencing Federation. Source: https://www.skyfish.com/p/danskfaegteforbund/898185/28738552?predicate=created&direction=desc

Denmark also joined the protests. The international tournament, scheduled for October 7 and 8, 2023, will not take place in Copenhagen. The head of the Danish Fencing Federation, Jan Sylvest Jensen, said:

«We came to the conclusion that, unfortunately, we cannot implement it. We cannot do this when the rules are as they are now when Russians and Belarusians are allowed to participate.»

Representatives of Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and other countries spoke categorically against the decision of the International Fencing Federation. They are currently determining their next steps.

Oleg Lavrychev, the vice-president of the Russian Fencing Federation, has repeatedly visited the occupied Donbas [4th from the left]

What to add here? Except for the photo of Oleg Lavrychev, vice-president of the Russian Fencing Federation and part-time deputy of the Nizhny Novgorod City Duma [Council], who is proud to have already traveled to Donbas nine times to help the occupiers. Sport is out of politics, you say?


«Oh, Sport, You Are Peace!»

The International Olympic Committee, to put it mildly, in a strange decision, admitted Russians and Belarusians to the next Olympic competitions under neutral flags. We wrote about the possible consequences of such a situation back in December of last year. In particular, the main Olympic idea was the establishment of peace on the planet. Therefore, the games were not even held during the world wars.

«Oh, Sport, You Are Peace!»

«Oh, Sport, You Are Peace!»

Now the International Olympic Committee is doing virtually the same thing, among other things by sending signals to international federations in various sports, not just fencing. Yes, the International Boxing Association returned Russia and Belarus to the big sport in October last year. The consequence of this decision was the boycott of the world championship by countries where boxing is one of the most popular and developed sports: the USA, Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Canada, and, of course, Ukraine.

Let the representatives of the IBA ask themselves two questions: was such a decision in favor of sport and was such a decision in favor of peace and justice? The International Union of Cyclists (Union Cycliste Internationale, UCI — ed.) also supported the return of Russian athletes to the international arena.

The UCI has opened Pandora’s box. It is worth remembering that the Russians have money for everything, except improving the welfare of their own citizens: war, propaganda, support of oligarchs, and security forces guarding the dictatorial criminal regime. So, it is quite possible to assume that they will try to financially motivate some sports federations in roundabout ways.

What results will the leadership of the current International Olympic Committee achieve? It will completely disgrace its reputation, will suffer significant financial losses (the British government has already called on the sponsors of the competition to put pressure on the IOC), will turn the 2024 Olympics in Paris (if France wants to host it at all) into a laughing stock, because, probably, dozens of countries will refuse to take part in its participation as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine. Who will replace them? Athletes from Eritrea, North Korea, and Iran? And how many viewers will watch this action?


Russia out of sport? The situation is not clear as a day

And a few words about football. Yes, all Russian clubs and national teams were excluded from tournaments under the auspices of FIFA and UEFA. In addition, they did it indefinitely, until a separate verdict. However, certain decisions of world football officials do not support Ukraine at all. Let’s talk about some of them.

In conditions where the second round of the national championship was simply not played, when the current championship of Ukraine is held without spectators, when football players are sometimes forced to sit in a bomb shelter for several hours waiting for the match to resume, finally, when some Ukrainian clubs are on the verge of survival, FIFA makes a decision about the possibility free departure of legionnaires on loan to foreign clubs.

Ukrainian football club «Shakhtar»

Thus, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, which has been playing away from its home stadium for the 9th year, preparing for the current Champions League, lost virtually all of its attacking potential, which consisted mainly of Brazilians. Now the «miners» (short nickname — ed.) have announced legal proceedings with the world football organization. The amount of the claim is 50 million euros. Furthermore: according to insider information, FIFA may make a decision in the near future about the possibility for legionnaires to unilaterally terminate the contract with Ukrainian clubs. This will push Ukrainian football back, the level of which has already declined after the war for obvious reasons, to the European backyard.

President of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) Gianni Infantino. Source: https://static.dw.com/image/37698526_1005.jpg

FIFA President Gianni Infantino himself made a number of ambiguous statements regarding the war in Ukraine, which characterize either his lack of understanding of the relevant events or his position on aggression. Perhaps the most surprising was the call for a ceasefire during the World Cup last December. First, such statements should probably be addressed to the aggressor country; secondly, it would at least give the enemy time to regroup and accumulate reserves. At the same time, Infantino never condemned military aggression against Ukraine.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, often addresses the participants of various major world events — from the G20 Summit to the Cannes Film Festival, but this is not an indicator for Infantino. The head of FIFA is so eager for peace that he refused Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak at the final of the World Cup with a call to the world community to help end the war in Ukraine. Such double standards.



A huge number of influential world organizations support Ukraine in its heroic resistance to the aggressor, but there are still those who do not understand what war is like in the center of Europe in the 21st century. He does not understand that the aggressor cannot be stopped by repeated phrases about peace. At the forefront of these organizations are world sports structures, first of all — the International Olympic Committee. There is only one way out — to increase the pressure on his leadership. Fortunately, Ukrainian diplomacy has already shown its effectiveness, and the fact that our land has always been rich in outstanding athletes who love their homeland with all their hearts and are listened to in the world is a well-known fact.


Kostiantyn Grechany

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