Thursday July 27, during the World Fencing Championships in Milan (Italy), theUkrainian Olga Kharlan won her duel against Anna Smirnova. But when her Russian opponent stepped towards her, the four-time world champion refused to shake her hand. Anna Smirnova then protested, remaining seated in a chair near the track for more than ten minutes. The jury finally disqualified the Ukrainian for non-compliance with the rules.
A symbolic encounter
The Ukrainian federation judges this decision “scandalous”. The meeting was, however, symbolic. Olga Kharlan is the first fencer from her country to face a Russian since Moscow invaded Ukraine. With the agreement of kyiv, she had accepted this sporting confrontation, Anna Smirnova participating as a neutral individual athlete. The International Olympic Committee calls for sensitivity with Ukrainian athletes.