— Published 14 November 2022

Vadym Guttsait renews his appeal

Vadym Guttsait insists. The President of the Ukrainian Fencing Federation and Minister of Sport (photo above) has written once again to the national federations that are members of the international body (FIE). Once again, his letter – of which FrancsJeux has been informed – concerns the Russian and Belorussian question. The former fencer appeals to all member countries of the FIE to include the following item on the agenda of the next congress, scheduled for 26 November in Lausanne: “Decisions concerning athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus“. Vadym Guttsait writes: “We are very concerned and indignant about the possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes returning to the international competition circuit, even under a neutral flag, which would be totally against the Olympic values, such as fair play, the call for peace and the end of war. Fencing is one of the Olympic sports most affected by the war in Ukraine. Recently, as a result of the missile strikes, the Professional College of Physical Culture in Mykolaiv, home of Olympic champions Olga Kharlan, Olena Khomrova and other outstanding athletes, was destroyed. All the classrooms, the campus, the fencing hall are severely damaged (…). We are aware that the sports community in general, and fencing in particular, cannot stop the war. But as human beings, for the sake of the peaceful future of the whole planet, we must do everything in our power to contribute to peace.” In his letter, the Ukrainian Sports Minister recalls that the President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Stanislav Pozdnyakov, recently said that his country’s athletes should experience the prospect of fighting against Ukraine as an honour. Vadym Guttsait also notes that many Russian fencers wear the colours of central army clubs and are directly funded by the Ministry of Defence. “Under no circumstances, in the current state of affairs, can we imagine shaking hands with representatives of countries that are attacking our motherland,” insists Vadym Guttsait. He concludes his letter by saying: “Once again we dare to ask, in order to protect the ideals of peace, justice and fair play, not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in international competitions, even under a neutral flag.”