World Fencing Championships: Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan disqualified for refusing Russian Anna Smirnov’s handshake



Ukraine's Olga Kharlan refuses to shake hands with Russian Anna Smirnova
Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan provided her sabre when Russian Anna Smirnova approached for a handshake

Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan has been disqualified for refusing to shake palms with Russian Anna Smirnova on the World Fencing Championships.

Kharlan, the primary fencer to face a Russian or Belarusian for the reason that former’s full-scale invasion of her homeland, gained 15-7 in Milan.

The 32-year-old rejected Smirnova’s handshake afterwards, as an alternative providing her sabre to faucet blades.

It led to an enchantment from Smirnova, who staged a 45-minute sit-down protest.

The Russian, competing underneath a impartial flag, remained standing on the piste following the first-round contest earlier than being handed a chair as her protest continued.

Her enchantment seemed to have been dismissed, with Kharlan nonetheless exhibiting as by means of to the final 32 when Smirnova ultimately walked off after being spoken to by an official, permitting the following bout to begin.

Nonetheless, the outcomes later confirmed that Kharlan, a four-time particular person world champion and four-time Olympic medallist, had been disqualified from the ladies’s sabre particular person.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) has known as upon sports activities federations to deal with Ukrainian athletes and Russians competing as neutrals with “the required diploma of sensitivity” following Kharlan’s disqualification, including: “We proceed to face in full solidarity with the Ukrainian athletes and the Olympic group of Ukraine.”

Russian Anna Smirnova stages a protest
Anna Smirnova refused to depart the piste and was handed a chair as her protest continued

In fencing, shaking palms is a part of the principles of the game and refusal to take action leads to a black card and expulsion.

Kharlan’s scheduled last-32 opponent, Bulgaria’s Yoanna Ilieva, superior consequently.

Ukrainian fencers haven’t competed the place rivals from Russia and Belarus have been permitted to enter as impartial athletes since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Nonetheless, the Ukrainian authorities up to date its place on Wednesday, granting permission for its athletes to compete towards Russians and Belarusians who take part as neutrals, as is the case on the World Fencing Championships.

Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, shared a photograph which appeared to indicate Anna Smirnova with a Russian soldier on his Twitter.external-link

“The photograph options Anna Smirnova, the Russian fencer who Ukrainian Olga Kharlan refused to shake palms with on the World Championships after profitable a good bout,” Podolyak mentioned.

“As you may see, she overtly admires the Russian military, which is killing Ukrainians and destroying our cities. The Worldwide Fencing Federation (FIE) disqualified the Ukrainian consultant for not shaking palms with the Russian,” he added.

“FIE ought to this be taken as a place? Does not Russian cash scent of blood?”

Mykhailo Illiashev, president of Ukraine’s fencing federation (NFFU), mentioned the organisation can be interesting towards Kharlan’s disqualification.

Kharlan’s Ukrainian team-mate – Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Igor Reizlin – was scheduled to take to the piste towards Russian Vadim Anokhin on Wednesday however didn’t current himself, subsequently forfeiting.

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