Ukrainian fencer Olga Charlan, who was disqualified from the world championships on Thursday because she refused to shake the hand of her Russian rival Anna Smirnova after winning her match, is still standing by her decision.
According to 32-year-old Charlan, Emmanuel Katsiadikis, president of the International Fencing Federation, assured her that it was possible not to shake her hand and instead touch her sword after her victory.
“I thought I had his word, but apparently that was not the case,” Charlan told the news agency. France Press agency. “This union will never change. At least I don’t know if I’ll still be alive when it finally changes. I hope the dueling world understands that. Not only is something wrong, but something must be done to change it. Today I am, but tomorrow may Be someone else.”
“I know I made the right decision. There is something more important than medals: my country and my family.” Because of her disqualification, Charlan is no longer allowed to play during the World Cup team event, which serves as an Olympic qualifying moment.
Ukraine responds angrily
Ukraine, through presidential advisor Mykhailo Podlyak, reacted with indignation to Charlan’s “absolutely shameful” exclusion on Thursday. On social media, he spoke of a “complete lack of empathy and a misunderstanding of the emotional context.”
Charlan, a four-time world saber champion, became the first athlete from Ukraine to compete against a Russian or Belarusian opponent on Thursday after a policy change by the Ukrainian Sports Ministry.
It was previously stated that from now on, Ukrainian athletes will only be banned from playing against opponents “representing the Russian Federation or Belarus.” Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, the policy has been to also not allow them to compete against Russians and Belarusians who fly under a neutral flag.
Ukrainian tennis players have played against Russians and Belarusians since the invasion, but they have played as individuals and not represented their country. Russian fencer Smirnova faced Charlan as a “neutral” athlete in Milan.
Oekraïense schermster gediskwalificeerd op WK omdat ze hand Russin weigert