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Ukraine's fencer Kharlan calls for rule change after disqualification

by Olena Goncharova July 28, 2023 2:50 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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Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan has said rules have to change following her disqualification for refusing to shake hands with her defeated Russian opponent on July 27.

Kharlan won the match in Milan against Russian fencer Anna Smirnova, 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.

Shaking an opponent's hand is mandatory in fencing, and failure to do so results in a “black card.”

"Today was a very difficult and very important day. What happened today raises a lot of questions," Kharlan said in a video posted on her Instagram page later on July 27.

"I did not want to shake hands with this athlete, and I acted with my heart. So when I heard that they wanted to disqualify me it killed me so much that I was screaming in pain," Kharlan said in an emotional appeal. "I think I understand, like everyone else in this world, in a sane world, that the rules have to change because the world is changing."

Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for Olha Kharlan to be reinstated in the championships. “Olha Kharlan won the fair competition and showed dignity,” Kuleba said on social media. “I urge [the International Fencing Federation] to restore Kharlan’s rights and allow her to compete.”

Ukrainian fencer disqualified after refusing to shake hands with Russian opponent
The Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan has been disqualified from the World Fencing Championship after refusing to shake hands with her Russian opponent on July 27. Kharlan won the match in Milan against Russian fencer Anna Smirnova, who was competing under a neutral flag.






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