Ukraine’s fencing hero Olha Harlan, who won six world championships and an Olympic gold medal, met Russia’s Anna Smyrnova in the round of 64.
We won 15-7 with ease, but the problem followed.
As Smyrnova approached to shake hands, Harlan held out his sword and distanced himself, and left the piste without shaking hands.
The International Fencing Federation rules stipulate that a handshake should be made after the match, and the Russian player remained in the piste for more than 50 minutes, saying Harlan violated the rules, and the International Federation eventually disqualified Harlan.
Harlan was furious.
[Olha Harlan/Ukraine Fencing Representative: I screamed in so much pain when I heard that the League of Nations was about to disqualify me. It’s the act of destroying and killing me.]
At a time when it has already become common for Ukrainian players not to shake hands with Russian players in other sports such as tennis, he did not give up his belief, saying it was an anachronistic decision that was tied only to regulations.
[Olha Harlan/Ukraine fencing representative: You can’t force anyone to do it. Ukrainian players will not shake hands (with Russian players)