Fencing-Ukraine teams to boycott Russia events over Crimea death

by Reuters
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 11:23 GMT

By Igor Nitsak

KIEV, March 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine is to boycott fencing tournaments in Russia to protest against the death of a Ukrainian serviceman in Crimea on Tuesday, the first fatality from a military clash since Russian troops seized control of the peninsula three weeks ago.

"There has been no room for politics in sport so far but the fencing federation and Ukrainian team cannot ignore the events of March 18," the Ukraine fencing federation said in an official statement on Wednesday.

"A Ukrainian serviceman was killed and a few more of our compatriots were wounded when a base in Simferopol came under attack by Russian military forces.

"In connection with those tragic events, male and female sabre teams will not take part in competitions in Russia and will cancel their application to attend a World Cup event in Moscow from March 21-23."

Top-ranked female fencer Olga Kharlan, who won the team sabre gold medal at the Beijing Olympic in 2008, is among the highest profile athletes to boycott the Moscow tournament.

Defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty in Moscow on Tuesday making Crimea part of Russia again, but said he did not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine. (Editing by John O'Brien)

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