Germany’s national saber team was able to convince at the last World Cup before the return of Russian athletes. Raoul Bonah (24), Lorenz Kempf (26), Matyas Szabo (31) and Frederic Kindler (24) only had to admit defeat to the series winner South Korea in the final in Budapest at the weekend.

In the direction of Paris 2024 it will be serious for the fencers – after the pro-Russia decision of the world association not only in sport.

“The saber team participates in the Olympic qualification and does not boycott the competitions with Russian participation. If we do not compete, we would make it even easier for the Russians to come to the Olympics. The pro-Russia decision was not in our hands the hands of the athletes,” said athlete spokesman Leon Schlaffer. “The athletes would have preferred a different decision by the FIE,” he said of the world association’s decision.

Criticism also from athletes Germany

If Russians and Belarusians are back on the scene, Ukraine will boycott the competitions. And also one or the other German fencer does not want to compete – even if all squad athletes will fence with realistic Olympic chances. “Everyone is free to say I’m boycotting, I can’t take responsibility for fighting the Russians and Belarusians,” says 22-year-old Schlaffer. You have to accept that. “But the athlete must not be disadvantaged and thrown out of the squad. That must not happen and it will not happen – the association has promised.”

Athlete representative Maximilian Klein also expressed criticism. “Because of this passivity and irresponsibility on the part of the associations, it is once again the athletes who are being burdened with responsibility and who are being urged to make individual decisions about boycotts,” said the director of sports policy at Athletes Germany.

The events in the classic Olympic sport could be a blueprint for the Paris 2024 Olympics. At its meeting in Lausanne this week, the International Olympic Committee is aiming for the return of athletes from Russia and Belarus to the international sports stage under a neutral flag.

In contrast to the track and field athletes around President Sebastian Coe, the World Fencing Federation, financed by the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, already turned around on March 10 and, in a decision made with a large majority, allowed Russians and Belarusians to participate in the Olympic qualification.

“I would like people to say: It’s still too early for the Russians to come back – also with regard to the Olympic qualification,” said Schlaffer to IOC President Thomas Bach, the 1976 Olympic fencing champion “I hope that the IOC will stick to the decisions that have been made. The situation has not changed, it has actually gotten worse,” said the saber fencer.

No more fencing world cups in Germany

In the fight for the Olympic qualification, Germany’s fencers are giving up the home advantage – World Cup events in Germany will no longer take place until further notice, even with the support of the athletes. The voting among the squad athletes on the question was pretty clear, said Schlaffer.

However, the voting behavior of the DFB President is unclear. Since the pro-Russia decision, there has been speculation about the veto of the former top fencer Claudia Bokel in the FIE decision – the 49-year-old has not yet commented on this. “Even the Fechter-Bund, which is financed from tax money, should not shirk its responsibility and at least explain transparently whether, how and why it contributed to Russia’s return to world sport,” Klein demands.