Ukraine’s Harlan disqualified for refusing to shake hands with Russian athlete
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has guaranteed a place at the Paris 2024 Games to Ukrainian athlete Olga Harlan, who was disqualified for refusing to shake hands with a Russian athlete after a match at the World Fencing Championships.
In a letter signed by IOC President Thomas Bach on Aug. 28, the IOC said it would “make a ‘unique exception’ and allocate an additional quota to Harlan if she does not qualify for the remainder of the Paris Games.”
Harlan defeated Russian Anna Smirnova 15-7 in the round of 64 of the women’s individual sabre at the 2023 World Championships in Milan, Italy, on July 27.
However, she was disqualified for failing to shake hands with Smirnova after the match.
The International Fencing Federation (FIE) stipulates that both athletes must shake hands after a match. Harlan was aware of the rule, but refused to shake hands with the Russian fighter who had invaded her country.
After Harlan left the arena, Smirnova sat on a chair on the piste for 50 minutes in protest. Harlan was eventually disqualified.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus have been sanctioned from participating in international competitions.
However, the IOC cleared the way earlier this year for athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete in events that qualify for the Paris Olympics.
However, Russian and Belarusian athletes who are members of the military, central intelligence services, or on teams affiliated with either organization were banned from competing in Olympic qualifying events. They were not allowed to compete in team or individual events.
There was some controversy after Harlan was disqualified for refusing to shake hands.
Olympic fencing spots are allocated based on world rankings. The World Championships is the event with the most ranking points.
With Harlan facing the possibility of not qualifying for the Paris Games in the aftermath of his disqualification, the IOC responded.
“We stand in full solidarity with the Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic community during this extremely difficult time,” the IOC emphasized.
Harlan has won four individual gold medals at the World Championships. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he helped Ukraine win gold in the sabre team event.
Meanwhile, 한국야동 the FIE has allowed Harlan to compete in the sabre team event on February 29-30.