Politics in sports


USA Fencing announces it will vote no to reinstatement of fencers and officials from Russia and Belarus

USA Fencing announces it will vote no to reinstatement of fencers and officials from Russia and Belarus
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USA Fencing says it will vote no to the reinstatement of fencers and officials from Russia and Belarus at the International Fencing Federation (FIE) Extraordinary Congress today.

During the online Extraordinary Congress members are due to vote on whether Russian and Belarusian fencers can participate in FIE individual and team competitions from the second half of April 2023, and whether officials from the two countries can attend FIE competitions from the second half of next month.

In a written address due to be read at the Extraordinary Congress USA Fencing treasurer Phil Cheris said: "Today is a critical day when the member federations show whether their ethical and moral fibres are stronger than the political expediency of pleasing those who are lobbying for their votes with promises of a quid pro quo.

I and USA Fencing are firmly against permitting the competitors of any country, some of whom are in or supported by its military establishment that is committing war crimes against civilians of another country, to compete.

If these athletes wish to compete, let them resign any military ties and financing — renounce their citizenship and disavow their support for the atrocities.

If these sound like drastic and extreme measures, they are — but invasion of a sovereign country and want on killing of its civilians is also drastic and extreme, and extreme transgressions call for extreme responses.

Many of these competitors are guilty, directly or indirectly, of supporting actively or passively their aggressor Government.

Those in Russia who passively watch give tacit approval to the current reprehensible activities.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus should not be permitted to compete in the individual or team events under some paper screen of fencing under the FIE flag or some other artifice creating a fiction of neutrality and individual eligibility.

USA Fencing chief executive Phil Andrews said the organisation's stance on fencers from Russia and Belarus would not change while the invasion of Ukraine continues ©Phil Andrews

Everyone knows they are Russians fencing for Russia and Belarusians fencing for a country that is aiding and abetting Russia’s crimes.

USA Fencing and I are equally opposed to permitting officials of Russia and Belarus to attend the upcoming competitions with the potential of serving at the Olympic Games in any capacity.

USA Fencing’s Board of Directors voted last night to confirm the organisation’s stance and their strong support for Cheris message.

As long as this war continues, our stance on the participation of athletes from these countries must not change,

said USA Fencing chief executive Phil Andrews.

Allowing the participation of those from these nations in any form, even under a so-called neutral status while still being funded by and supported by the Russian Government is unacceptable.

Our stance comes directly from our largest stakeholder — our top athletes who have to compete on the piste.

It is on their behalf, and in their name, today we keep our stance against the return of Russia and Belarus.

On Wednesday (March 8) the Ukrainian Fencing Federation made a last-ditch appeal to FIE members to vote against the return of Russian and Belarusian fencers.

Athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus have been barred from international competitions since last March when the FIE followed the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recommendations to impose the ban due to the war in Ukraine.

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