Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic fencing medalist, was disqualified from the World Fencing Championships in Milan on Thursday after refusing to shake arms together 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 an alternative. In accordance with the game’s guidelines, a fencing bout doesn’t finish till the 2 fencers have saluted one another and shaken arms, 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.
A number of Ukrainian political officers condemned the disqualification, tying it on to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Anna Smirnova misplaced the honest competitors and determined to play soiled with the handshake present,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s overseas minister, stated on Twitter, including that Ms. Smirnova’s conduct was precisely how the “Russian military acts on the battlefield.”
Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Ukrainian Speaker of Parliament, praised Ms. Kharlan on the Telegram messaging app, writing that not shaking arms “is a complicated type of simply ignoring terrorists with no title, no honour, no flag beneath which they compete.”
Ms. Kharlan, 32, is among the many world’s high fencers, having received a gold medal within the crew saber competitors on the 2008 Olympic Video 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 Worldwide Olympic Committee to compete as nations in subsequent yr’s Summer time Olympics in Paris. However it’s potential 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, corresponding to not having proven public help for the invasion.
With struggle as a backdrop, drama within the sport has been taking part in out in the USA and elsewhere this summer time. Three fencers who left Russia and denounced the invasion competed as impartial athletes at the USA summer time 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 lure set by her Russian opponent. Except overturned, the disqualification within the particular person saber competitors additionally might stop Ms. Kharlan from competing within the crew fencing competitors on the world championships.
On the one hand, the Worldwide Fencing Federation had little selection however to stick to its guidelines about shaking arms, 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. However, Mr. Lokhanov stated, the tapping of blades was the accepted acknowledgment of an opponent through the pandemic and continues to be thought of appropriate by many fencers.
“I help Olga,” he stated. “For my part she made the appropriate resolution. I perceive why she made it. However I don’t see any purpose why this Russian lady needed to make that drama. She might have simply touched blades; the bout was over.”
Marc Santora contributed reporting.