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Disqualified Ukrainian fencer Kharlan reinstated, will have Paris Olympics place

by Olena Goncharova July 29, 2023 4:37 AM 2 min read
Ukraine's Olha Kharlan (L) and Russia's Anna Smirnova, registered as an Individual Neutral Athlete (AIN), compete during the Sabre Women's Senior Individual qualifiers, as part of the FIE Fencing World Championships in Milan, on July 27, 2023. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
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The International Fencing Federation (FIE) announced on July 28 it was reinstating Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan, allowing her to take part in the team competition at the world championships in Italy.

Kharlan won the match in Milan against Russian fencer Anna Smirnova on July 27, who was competing under a neutral flag. At the end, Kharlan refused to shake hands with her opponent, instead offering her sabre to tap blades.

Kharlan was disqualified since shaking an opponent's hand is mandatory in fencing, and failure to do so results in a “black card.”

Emmanuel Katsiadakis, the President of the FIE, said the decision had been taken "after consultation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)."

The IOC has urged international sporting governing bodies to treat contests between Ukrainians and neutral athletes (implying Russian and Belarus athletes) "with the necessary degree of sensitivity" after Kharlan's disqualification.

On July 28, IOC President Thomas Bach sent Kharlan a letter saying she would be guaranteed a place at next year's Olympics in Paris: "As a fellow fencer, it is impossible for me to imagine how you feel at this moment," Bach wrote, according to AFP.

"Given your unique situation, the International Olympic Committee will allocate an additional quota place to you for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 in case you will not be able to qualify in the remaining period," read Bach's letter.

He added: "Rest assured that the IOC will continue to stand in full solidarity with the Ukrainian athletes and the Olympic community of Ukraine during these extremely difficult times."

IOC urges international sporting federations to show ‘sensitivity’ after Ukrainian fencer disqualified
The International Olympic Committee has urged international sporting governing bodies to treat contests between Ukrainians and neutral athletes (implying Russian athletes) “with the necessary degree of sensitivity” after Ukrainian fencer Olha Kharlan was disqualified from the FIE Fencing World Champ…


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