April 1, 2023

Finnish Fencing Leader Asks FIE To Ban Russia And Belarus

3 min read

The President of the Finnish Fencing and Pentathlon Federation, Joonas Lyytinen, has urged the International Fencing Federation (FIE) to maintain the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials because the situation in Ukraine is still going on.

Lyytinen is of the opinion that if the FIE were to ease prohibitions against Russia and its military partner Belarus, it would send out a “quite weird message.”

His remarks come after it was reported that a determination on the status of athletes hailing from the two countries is scheduled to be made at the FIE Congress the following month.

Lyytinen anticipates that a vote will be taken on whether or not Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials should be permitted to participate in future international competitions.

Despite this, the Finnish official stressed that it was “not the time to lift the exclusion” while Russian soldiers continue their assault on Ukraine.

Insidethegames quoted Lyytinen as saying, “In my perspective, it would be a very bizarre message to convey to the globe and sporting community [if the FIE lifted the limits],” which he said in reference to the potential lifting of the restrictions.

“The activities of the Russian state and Belarus, which support those actions, were the initial reason for our decision to ban the athletes.

“Since then, circumstances have not improved but rather deteriorated throughout the course of the months, and the conflict has not been resolved.

“If we were to disqualify these athletes in February due to this, how could we possibly allow them back when the fundamental facts had not changed?”

Lyytinen said that the participation of banned fencers would contribute to the “Russian propaganda machine,” despite the fact that Lyytinen shared the sentiments of fencers who are opposed to the conflict.

According to Lyytinen, “the urgency in this situation is that the Olympic qualification for Paris [2024] is starting, therefore if the Russian and Belarusian athletes are not permitted in now, then they would not qualify.”

“I understand why this discussion is taking place at this time, but the reasons that were stated for the exclusion back in February have not altered at all.

“It is very fortunate that the Russian athletes can’t participate when they are not personally responsible. And I am happy that the Russian Fencing Federation has not supported the war unlike some other sporting organizations in Russia. But at the same time, sport is a major part of the Russian propaganda machine, and Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin regime are using sport to rile up nationalist fervor.”

Lyytinen is also concerned that international contests would devolve into “complete pandemonium” if Russia and Belarus were allowed to compete.

“I am confident that if we permitted the Russian athletes to compete in international fencing this would cause ongoing problems with fencers refusing to fence other fencers, leading to various disciplinary actions, and that would place them in a pretty tough situation,” stated Lyytinen.

The FIE Congress is scheduled to take place on November 226 in Lausanne, which is located in Switzerland.

During the meeting, it is anticipated that Emmanuel Katsiadakis would be formally ratified into his position as Interim President of the organization.

Since the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who was born in Uzbekistan but is now a citizen of Russia, agreed to step down as President of the Russian Federation in response to economic sanctions imposed by the European Union in response to Russia’s military assault on Ukraine, a Greek official has been in charge of the Federation of Independent Energy Producers (FIE).

Additional countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have placed sanctions on Usmanov.

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