05/04/2023- Member


Following recent IOC recommendations, FIE confirms position on participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in FIE competitions, including the position that there will be no participation in team events.

In an urgent letter to national federations, the FIE has confirmed that from the second half of April 2023 and until further notice:
1. Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport are allowed to participate in FIE individual competitions, as Individual Neutral Athletes, in compliance with the IOC Recommendations and the Conditions of Participation recommended by the IOC.
2. Athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport are not allowed to participate in FIE team competitions.
3. a) Athletes Support Personnel (coaches, trainers, medical staff, technical staff) with a Russian or Belarusian passport are allowed to attend FIE individual competitions, in compliance with the IOC Recommendations and the Conditions of Participation recommended by the IOC.
b) International Technical Officials (referees, members of commissions and councils) with a Russian or Belarusian passport are allowed to participate in FIE competitions, in compliance with IOC Recommended Conditions of Participation.

The full text of the letter can be found here with the accompanying FIE directives here.


Summary Background/Timeline 

  • On 10th March the FIE Congress voted to allow Russia/Belarus to participate under conditions of neutrality subject to IOC recommendations – see here. British Fencing voted “No” on all three participation proposals (individuals, teams, officials) and the Board’s statement can be found here.
  • On 28th March the IOC issued a set of recommendations regarding the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport. A Q&A was also published.
  • On 3rd April the FIE met to review the IOC recommendations. Their position (see above) was confirmed.
  • In the urgent letter, the FIE also reminded participants that:
    a) The fencing family, including federations, organisers, athletes and officials, is subject to and must comply with all FIE Rules, Statutes, Ethical code, Safeguarding policy, Administrative Rules, Anti-doping rules and any other FIE decision or rule in force.
    b) In compliance with the FIE Statutes, Rules and Administrative Rules, federations which accept the organisation of an FIE event must ensure that visas will be granted to all participants by their national authorities. In case this requirement concerning the granting of visa cannot be fulfilled, the organising federation must inform the FIE that it cannot hold the event, according to the deadlines provided for by the Calendar chapter of the Administrative Rules.


Affected Competitions

The situation has led to a number of changes and cancellations. As at 5th April 2023:

  • SWF Poznan, Poland – cancelled (announced by the Polish Fencing Federation here, yet to be officially confirmed by the FIE).
  • SWF Tauberbischofsheim , Germany – relocated to Plovdiv, Bulgaria (same dates, May 5-7).
  • SME St Maur, France – relocated to Istanbul, Turkey (same dates, May 19-21).

Further changes are expected and participants are advised to make flexible travel plans. (Note: It is unlikely that standard travel insurance policies will cover FIE relocation/cancellation of tournaments).


BF Position

The implementation of the IOC recommendations will mean that British teams (team events) will not be competing against neutral teams made up of Russian or Belarusian athletes. It is also considered unlikely (according to a statement from Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mammadov here) that many of the top Russian and Belarussian fencers will meet the IOC neutrality conditions. Therefore they are unlikely to compete as individual athletes.

However, implementation of these recommendations will make it possible for people with Russian and Belarusian passports to participate in FIE individual competitions under a neutral status provided neutrality conditions (as laid out by the IOC) are met.

We acknowledge that some of our athletes may decide they do not wish to fence against an individual athlete with a Russian or Belarusian passport. We understand that this will be a difficult decision for any athlete to make especially for those with Olympic qualification at stake.

BF will support athletes to make their own, individual, informed decisions by keeping athletes, coaches and parents updated on the situation and of the potential consequences of their decisions.

All athletes will be supported whether they choose to compete or not.


What happens if I get drawn against a neutral fencer and do not wish to compete?

From an FIE rules perspective there are two options, with different outcomes:

1. No-show – If you do not show up on the piste t.118 applies –  When a fencer or complete team do not present themselves to the Referee at his first call, ten minutes before the time indicated to come onto the piste for the start of the pool or team match, or the start of the bouts of direct elimination (cf. Article t.66.1), the fencer or team concerned will be eliminated, with no further sanction. Your finishing position will be listed as if you lost that bout and you will receive FIE ranking points.

2. Refuse to fence – If you show up for the match and then refuse to fence the rule (t.113) is that you will receive a black card, which results in a two month suspension from FIE competition, you will not receive FIE ranking points for that competition and your name removed from the final results table. If the referees/organisers follow the rules (as they are fully expected to do) and issue a black card, BF will not be able to appeal/change this.

There will be no BF sanctions imposed in either case. BF ranking points will be awarded based on the eliminated finishing position (which will be calculated should a Black card be awarded). Note that athletes serving an FIE ban will not be eligible for selection for FIE competitions.


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