The World Fencing Championships began in Milan, which from the first days can be called truly scandalous. And it is about the obstinacy of the Ukrainian federations, which, due to their unsportsmanlike principles, first banned Ukrainian athletes from competing in the same tournaments with the Russians, and then seemed to back down, but still continue to administer periodic injections to Russian athletes.
It would seem that we let officials work it out among themselves, sport should be out of politics. But it didn’t. One of the Ukrainian sword players has already withdrawn from the tournament, because according to the draw he had a meeting with Russian Vadim Anokhin.
The draw brought together a Ukrainian and a Russian in sabre competitions. Already in the first round, the Ukrainian Olga Harlan had to compete with Anna Smirnova. Is it worth mentioning that Russians participate in the tournament without a flag, and according to the latest decree of the Ministry of Sports of Ukraine, its athletes were allowed to compete in the same tournaments with Russians, so as not to miss the opportunity to go to the Olympic Games?
However, this did not stop the Ukrainian media from starting to inflate the story around the fight between Harlan and Smirnova a few days before the start of the competition, and the main question was: “Will this confrontation take place?”
The fight finally took place. And, let’s not try to praise the Russian athlete, Harlan turned out to be head and shoulders stronger than her opponent. The match ended with a score of 15:7 in favor of the Ukrainian, but the main action of all the spectators was waiting after the end of the match.
According to the rules of the competition, the fight is not considered completed if the fencers did not perform a farewell ritual after the timer expired. It consists of the fact that athletes must give a salute with weapons to the opponent, the judge and the public, and then shake hands. In case of violation of this paragraph, the athlete faces disqualification.
However, the Ukrainians simply did not do this. Having scored the 15 points needed to win, Harlan refused to shake his opponent’s hand, greeting her with an aggressive gesture, putting his saber forward. After exchanging a few words with her opponent, the Ukrainian athlete left the track.
Anna, on the other hand, stood on him, expecting his opponent to abide by all the rules of ethics and rules of action prescribed by the norms. After 25 minutes, the organizers brought the Russian woman a chair, but it was not possible to wait for Harlan Smirnova. After 45 minutes of waiting, one of the organizers approached the Russian woman and removed the chair, telling Anna to clear the track for the next athletes. As a result, after an hour of waiting for compliance with all the requirements of the regulations, the Russian athlete had to pick up the equipment and leave the competition hall.
The decision of the organizers
According to the rules, the Ukrainian was threatened with disqualification, however, as recent international competitions have shown, common sense does not always prevail in the issue of decision-making regarding Russian athletes. This case was no exception. The Russian side lodged a protest against Harlan’s actions, but the judges left the outcome of the fight in effect after the meeting.
The possible disqualification of the Ukrainian could cause a real explosion in the press, but according to clearly defined rules, the organizers were forced to give a place in the final 1/16 of the competition to Anna Smirnova. However, the organizers of the world championship trampled on all the centuries-old traditions of fencing, actually allowing a disrespectful attitude towards opponents. This can be called nothing but a manifestation of cowardice. It turned out to be easier for them to go against the law than against public opinion.
Ukrainian athletes often turn competitions into a farce, and this situation is a vivid example of this. Regardless of the political situation in the world, sport should at least stay out of politics on tracks, courts, fields and stadiums. If an athlete wants to make a political statement by his or her actions that violates the very principle of the sports movement, then he or she has no place in competitions.