"Will Russian foil athletes compete in Poland? Of course not, it's unacceptable," Russian Fencing Federation President Ilgar Mamedov was quoted as saying by the Ria Novosti news agency, three weeks before the first qualifying event for the Olympics, in women's foil, in Poznan.

Poland asked Russian and Belarusian athletes to sign a written document stating that they did not support the offensive in Ukraine and that they were not employed by the Russian military or security organ, while respecting established neutrality criteria.

"The Polish Federation has forgotten that it is a sports federation, not a political one. Unfortunately, everything is mixed," Mamedov said.

"This is a specifically political statement, nothing to do with sport here," he said, castigating the lack of "freedom of expression" in his eyes.

"These provocative conditions will not allow us to participate in these competitions. Everything is done for this," Ilgar Mamedov told Russian sports daily Sport-Express.

Russian athletes were banned from all international competitions in the wake of the launch of the military offensive in Ukraine last year.

The International Fencing Federation (FIE) announced in early March the reinstatement of Russian fencers, a first in international sport in more than a year.

This decision provoked the ire of Kiev and some of its allies.

More than 300 fencers from around the world have since signed a petition to denounce the FIE's position and Denmark, France and Germany have all cancelled competitions in the face of the uproar.

On 28 March, the IOC recommended the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral banner and individually, without however deciding at this stage on the possible participation of these athletes in the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

However, the Russian Olympic Committee has already deemed these reinstatement criteria "discriminatory".

© 2023 AFP