Ukrainian Fencer Disqualified After Not Shaking Hands With Russian Opponent

Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic fencing medalist, was disqualified from the World Fencing Championships in Milan on Thursday after refusing to shake fingers along with her Russian opponent.

After Ms. Kharlan defeated Anna Smirnova, a Russian competitor who had joined the competitors with a impartial standing, Ms. Smirnova prolonged her hand to Ms. Kharlan, who prolonged her saber as a substitute. According to the game’s rules, a fencing bout doesn’t finish till the 2 fencers have saluted one another and shaken fingers, and the referee can penalize those that don’t comply.

The Ukrainian Fencing Federation stated on Thursday that Ms. Kharlan had “convincingly” received and would attraction the disqualification.

Several Ukrainian political officers condemned the disqualification, tying it on to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Anna Smirnova lost the fair competition and decided to play dirty with the handshake show,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s overseas minister, stated on Twitter, including that Ms. Smirnova’s conduct was precisely how the “Russian army acts on the battlefield.”

Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Ukrainian Speaker of Parliament, praised Ms. Kharlan on the Telegram messaging app, writing that not shaking fingers “is a sophisticated form of just ignoring terrorists with no name, no honour, no flag under which they compete.”

Ms. Kharlan, 32, is among the many world’s high fencers, having received a gold medal within the group saber competitors on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Since then, she additionally has two bronze medals and a silver in Olympic competitors.

Russia and Belarus weren’t invited by the International Olympic Committee to compete as nations in subsequent 12 months’s Summer Olympics in Paris. But it’s attainable that fencers from each international locations will have the ability to take part as impartial athletes, with out their nationwide flags or anthems, as long as they meet sure necessities, reminiscent of not having proven public help for the invasion.

With struggle as a backdrop, drama within the sport has been enjoying out within the United States and elsewhere this summer season. Three fencers who left Russia and denounced the invasion competed as impartial athletes on the United States summer season championships earlier this month in Phoenix. This departure was so embarrassing to the Russians that it led to the firing of the nation’s high épée coach.

On Wednesday, Igor Reizlin, a Ukrainian fencer, withdrew from his competitors in opposition to a Russian opponent on the world championships in Milan.

One former high Russian fencer expressed his sympathy for Ms. Kharlan on Thursday. Konstantin Lokhanov, who participated for Russia within the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and now lives in San Diego, stated in an interview that he thought the disqualification of Ms. Kharlan may need been a entice set by her Russian opponent. Unless overturned, the disqualification within the particular person saber competitors additionally may forestall Ms. Kharlan from competing within the group fencing competitors on the world championships.

On the one hand, the International Fencing Federation had little selection however to stick to its guidelines about shaking fingers, stated Mr. Lokhanov, who’s the previous husband of a Russian Olympic fencing champion and the previous son-in-law of the president of the Russian Olympic Committee. On the opposite hand, Mr. Lokhanov stated, the tapping of blades was the accepted acknowledgment of an opponent in the course of the pandemic and remains to be thought of appropriate by many fencers.

“I support Olga,” he stated. “In my opinion she made the right decision. I understand why she made it. But I don’t see any reason why this Russian woman had to make that drama. She could have just touched blades; the bout was over.”

Marc Santora contributed reporting.

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