— Published 19 September 2022

Ukraine does not want the Russians to return

The prospect of a return of Russian athletes to international competitions, raised last week by Susanne Lyons, the president of the US Olympic Committee (USOPC), has already made the Ukrainian Minister of Sport react. Vadym Guttsait (pictured above), also president of the Ukrainian Fencing Federation, has written a very official letter to the international fencing body (FIE) urging its interim president, Emmanuel Katsiadakis, and the members of its executive board to maintain the suspension of Russian and Belarusian fencers. “Despite the fear, fencers and coaches are holding training sessions, but they are forced to go to bomb shelters because of the constant attacks by Russian army artillery,” wrote Vadym Guttsait in his letter to the FIE, which has been made available to FrancsJeux. A large number of sports facilities were destroyed by the Russian occupiers, in particular the fencing club “Unifekht” in Kharkiv and the school of physical culture in Mykolaiv. The Ukrainian minister also cites the tragedy experienced by Olena Khomrova, Olympic champion in team sabre at the 2008 Beijing Games, whose father was killed by the Russian army in a missile strike in Mykolaiv. “The ban on the participation of all Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competitions will have an impact on Russian and Belarusian society,” writes Vadym Guttsait. “The Ukrainian Fencing Federation urges you to prevent the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international sports competitions, even under the neutral flag. Representatives of the aggressor countries cannot be part of fair and honest Olympic sports while Russia continues this bloody war.”