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Russia Olympic champs in taekwondo, fencing barred from world championships

Sofia Pozdniakova

Gold medallist Russia’s Sofia Pozdniakova celebrates on podium during the medal ceremony for the womens individual sabre during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Olympic gold medalists from Russia are barred from upcoming world championships in taekwondo and fencing, while others from their nation will be allowed, as those sports follow IOC recommendations for reintegrating Russian athletes.

Vladislav Larin and Maksim Khramtsov, who in Tokyo became the first taekwondo athletes from Russia to win an Olympic title, had their applications to compete in next week’s world championships denied by World Taekwondo, according to multiple reports.

World Taekwondo said Tuesday that it admitted 23 neutral athletes from Belarus and Russia and that two athletes’ applications were rejected because they didn’t fulfill conditions for participation outlined by the IOC’s recommendations in March. World Taekwondo did not name the two rejected athletes.

On March 20, the IOC recommended to international sports federations that, should they decide to readmit athletes from Russia and Belarus as neutrals, to only accept those who do not actively support the war in Ukraine and are not actively contracted by the military.

Several sports have since taken steps toward reintegrating some Russian and Belarusian athletes, including taekwondo and fencing.

In response, Ukraine has boycotted some competitions, including taekwondo worlds. Ukraine also boycotted the world judo championships earlier this month, the first world championships in an Olympic sport run by an IOC-sanctioned sport federation to include athletes from Russia since December 2021.

Also Tuesday, the president of Italy’s National Olympic Committee said that at least some fencers from Russia would not be allowed into the country for the world championships in that sport in July in Milan on the advice of the Italian government and following the IOC recommendations, according to Reuters. He specifically named Tokyo Olympic sabre champion Sofia Pozdniakova, whose father is Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov.

Fencing’s international governing body (FIE) has approved some athletes from Russia to compete internationally as neutrals, but that list includes neither Pozdniakova nor any of the nation’s other six gold medalists from the Tokyo Games, according to Russian news agency TASS.

FIE lifted restrictions on athletes from Russia and Belarus earlier in March, while the IOC was still recommending all athletes be banned. But so far, no Russian or Belarusian athlete has returned to compete in the sport’s top-level World Cup and Grand Prix events.

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