"Harlan was given an ultimatum". The coach told what really happened to the Ukrainian at the World Fencing Championships
The head coach of the Ukrainian national fencing team, Natalia Konrad, said that the day before the scandal at the 2023 World Championships, where Ukrainian sabre fencer Olga Harlan was disqualified for refusing to shake hands with a Russian woman, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) changed the rules. During the COVID-19 situation, handshakes were cancelled and it was enough to touch the weapon.
"But on 26 July, there was an emergency meeting of the FIE, and they cancelled this rule without telling anyone," Suspilne quoted Conrad as saying.
When Harlan refused to shake hands with Smirnova, the FIE gave Olga an ultimatum: if she refused to shake hands, she would be disqualified.
"Olga didn't shake hands, offered the weapon to the 'neutral' girl, but she didn't want it, stayed on the track, and they started writing a protest to the FIE. Although the judge recorded Olha's victory, it did not appear on the scoreboard. Then some time passed, we were called and told that there were two ways to resolve the issue: either you shake hands or there will be a disqualification," the coach explained in detail.
The Ukrainian team tried to explain that this was a non-standard situation, that there should be other ways to resolve it.
"But I think there was a lot of pressure from the representatives of the aggressor country, and this has a great impact in this case," Conrad concluded.
As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, the famous Ukrainian fencer Olga Harlan defeated Russian Anna Smirnova in the round of 32 of the 2023 World Cup in Milan. After the fight, our compatriot refused to shake hands with her opponent, who staged a real circus by refusing to leave the track. The Russian representative lodged a protest against the outcome of the duel, which was rejected.
The propaganda TV channel Match TV published a photo of the denunciation that Anna Smirnova had written against Olga, and Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin called the FIE's decision to punish the Olympic champion from Mykolaiv the right one.
Smirnova herself is not a "neutral" athlete, as required by the competition regulations. Smirnova's brother is a military officer, and she is very proud of him, as can be seen from their joint photos.
The Ukrainian Fencing Federation is preparing a protest. However, the appeal will not be considered immediately, which means that the Beijing 2008 gold medallist will not be able to continue competing in the individual events at the tournament.