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Russia says will not send fencers to Olympic qualifier in Poland

Russia will not send fencers to an Olympic qualifier event in Poland this month because of “unacceptable” conditions, the head of Russia’s Fencing federation was quoted by Russian media as saying on Sunday.

“Will Russian fencers take part in Poland? Of course not, it is unacceptable,” Ilgar Mamedov told RIA Novosti, referring to the Women’s Foil World Cup due to start on April 21.

Poland’s fencing federation has said that in order to take part Russian and Belarusian athletes would have to sign a statement saying they did not support Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

The statement also states that the athletes “are not associated with the regime of (Russian President) Vladimir Putin” and “are not employed by Russian or Belarusian military or national security bodies”.

“These provocative conditions will not allow us to take part in this competition,” Mamedov told Russia’s Sport Express.

Athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus have faced differing sanctions from a multitude of sports since Russia launched its assault on Ukraine in February last year.

The International Fencing Federation last month ruled that Russian and Belarusian athletes could return to international competition, making fencing the first Olympic sport to re-open its events to them.

The decision generated outrage in Ukraine, a hard-hitting petition to uphold the ban and a raft of competition cancellations in countries opposed to hosting Russian or Belarusian fencers.

Denmark, France and Germany have all cancelled planned events.

The International Olympic Committee on March 28 recommended the return to competition of Russian and Belarusian athletes as individual neutrals but refused to give a timeline on their potential participation at the Paris Olympics next year.

The IOC said athletes “who actively support the war” would be banned, as well as “athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies”.

Russian Olympic chiefs have branded the conditions “discriminatory”.

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