• Top Russian athletes who have publicly supported the war or are employed by the military or security forces are still banned from competing in the Olympics.
  • The International Olympic Committee recommends that Russian and Belarusian athletes compete as neutral athletes without national symbols.
  • Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, whose daughter was banned from competing, says the country may boycott the qualifiers due to the exclusion of some of the country’s top athletes.

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee indicated Thursday that the country may boycott qualifying fencing competitions for next year’s Paris Games after some athletes, including his own daughter, were banned from competing.

The International Olympic Committee recommends allowing competitors from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutral athletes without national symbols after the invasion of Ukraine, but still excluding employees of the military or security services, or those who have publicly supported the war.

Two-time gold medalist Yana Egorian and all three Tokyo Olympics women’s team saber gold medalists, Sofya Velikaya, Olga Nikitina and Sofia Pozdniakova, were rejected after being vetted by the International Fencing Federation, he told the been the president of the Russian Fencing Federation, Ilgar Mamedov. news agencies.

Pozdniakova is the daughter of the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov.


Some lesser-known fencers were approved to compete, Mamedov said. But he did not say why the other fencers were rejected and there was no immediate confirmation from the International Fencing Federation, known as the FIE.

The three women’s team saber gold medalists were identified as affiliated with the Army Central Sports Club, known as CSKA, in a 2021 statement on the Russian Defense Ministry website after the Tokyo Olympics. He listed Velikaya with the rank of captain and Nikitina as a sergeant. Both they and Egorian appear in profiles on the FIE website under the term «armed forces athlete».

The FIE decisions showed that the IOC criteria for the return of the Russian and Belarusian athletes are a «sham» and a «thinly veiled suspension» that amounted to discrimination, Pozdnyakov wrote in posts on the Telegram app.

Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, March 25, 2021. Pozdnyakov indicated on May 11, 2023 that the country may boycott qualifying competitions for the Olympic Games as some of the best Russian athletes are still banned. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

«The International Olympic Committee is imposing criteria such that the participation of the vast majority of our athletes and virtually all national team leaders in Olympic qualification and other competitions is in practice unrealistic,» he added.


Pozdnyakov said that he had spoken with the Russian fencing team and indicated that they supported boycotting the competitions under the current conditions.

«The position is unanimous, our fencers will participate only if there are equal rights with athletes from other countries, without artificial or wrong parameters and other artificial obstacle courses,» Pozdnyakov said.

There was also criticism from the Kremlin. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said Russia opposes restrictions on its athletes.

«We consider it absolutely wrong to try to apply conditions of some political requirements to athletes and their participation in international competitions,» Peskov said. «We do not agree with such recommendations.»

Fencing has a central place in Olympic politics because it is the sport of IOC President Thomas Bach, who was a gold medalist at the 1976 Montreal Games. Pozdnyakov himself won four Olympic gold medals in fencing, and his daughter won the individual and team saber gold medals in Tokyo.


A Russian boycott could pave the way for Ukrainian fencers to continue competing. It is the policy of the Ukrainian government and the fencing team not to participate in any event where Russian or Belarusian competitors are allowed.

Previous moves by the FIE to readmit Russians and Belarusians led to a protest petition from the world’s top fencers against the plan. At least four competitions on the FIE World Cup circuit have also been canceled by organizers unwilling to host Russian and Belarusian competitors.