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Fencing-Poland scraps women's foil World Cup over Russian athletes-federation

BERLIN, April 5 (Reuters) - Poland has cancelled the women's foil World Cup set for April 21-23 in Poznan after the international fencing federation (FIE) decided to readmit Russian and Belarusian athletes while the war in Ukraine is ongoing, the Polish fencing federation said on Wednesday.

The FIE on March 10 cleared fencers from Russia and Belarus to return to international events just before the start of 2024 Paris Olympic qualifiers.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended Russians and Belarusians be allowed to return to international competition as neutrals since their ban last year in the wake of Russia's invasion, which Moscow calls a «special military operation».

Ukraine's government has said its athletes will not be allowed to take part in Paris 2024 Olympics qualifying events if they have to compete against them.

The FIE decision prompted Ukraine's fencing federation (NFFU) to say it would boycott all events in which Russians and Belarusians were included, while hundreds of fencers publicly opposed the FIE's decision in an open letter.

«The Polish Federation (PZS) informs that due to the FIE change of the rules of qualifying for the women's foil World Cup in Poznan related to competitors and support staff holding Russian and Belarusian passports, the Board of the PZS is forced to cancel this competition,» it said in a statement.

It said the presence of those athletes combined with the FIE verification process of any support for the war that was based on «unspecified premises» were the reason for the decision.

«There is a risk that a large number of competitors with Russian and Belarusian passports will be admitted in a poorly controlled manner,» it said.

«The Polish Fencing Association supports the Ukrainian Fencing Federation in its efforts to remove from the competitions and the world fencing environment people who support the brutal war in Ukraine and endorse the regime of Vladimir Putin.

»So as the organiser of the World Cup in Poznan, it could not accept such a situation." (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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