A planned women’s foil International Fencing Federation (FIE) World Cup in Tauberbischofsheim in Germany has been cancelled because of the decision to allow the return of of representatives of Russia and Belarus.
The FIE had previously lifted a ban on individual athletes, teams, and officials from Russia and Belarus, which had been in place since March 2022 following the beginning of full-scale war of Russia against Ukraine . The decision to allow their return was made at an Extraordinary Congress held last week, and it has since caused “heated discussions both internally and externally,” said German Fencing Federation (DFB) President Claudia Bokel.
Bokel, a former chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission and Athens 2004 women’s team épée silver medallist, expressed her disappointment that the Tauberbischofsheim World Cup would not take place as scheduled from May 5 to 7. The DFB Executive Committee concluded that the conditions required by the FIE could not be met, and that a later decision about admission would have been the only right way. The decision was made in solidarity with the people in Ukraine who are suffering from the war of aggression, Bokel said.
The FIE’s decision to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes has stirred controversy in the sports world, with Bokel suggesting that “geopolitics” had played a role. The IOC, which recommends the non-participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes but is exploring a pathway for their return, said it “has taken note of the FIE decision.”
As IOC Athletes’ Commission chair from 2012 until 2016, Bokel supported calls for Russia to be banned from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro following revelations about the country’s state-sponsored doping programme.
The IOC ultimately decided against a blanket ban, with eligibility criteria for Russian athletes defined by International Federations.
Bokel later claimed she was “bullied internally” for her stance.
Under the FIE’s plans, Russian and Belarusian fencers could return at the sabre Grand Prix in Seoul from April 27 to 29 and World Cups starting with the women’s foil in Poznań from April 21, although Poland has put in place a ban on issuing visas to Russian nationals.