Giovanni Malagò had pushed for neutral Russians to be able to compete in Italy, going along with IOC guidelines ©Getty Images

Eleven fencers from Russia and Belarus have been permitted by the Italian Government to compete as neutrals at the World Championships in Milan.

Giovanni Malagò, the President of the Italian National Olympic Committee and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, confirmed that politicians would not block the athletes attending.

In March, the IOC Executive Board recommended that individual Russian and Belarusian athletes should be allowed to return to competition as neutrals, if they are not openly in support of the invasion of Ukraine or affiliated to the military.

This rolled back the original stance after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion in February 2022, which called for an outright ban.

Before this, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) had already decided that athletes from the two countries should be allowed back.

This left the start of the sport's Paris 2024 qualification window in crisis as host nations of World Cup competitions refused to accept the decision.

Events in Bonn and Tauberbischofsheim in Germany, Poznań in Poland and Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in France were all cancelled.

Russian and Belarusian fencers have also not competed at the competitions which have gone ahead.

Thirty-nine athletes from the two countries had registered for the World Championships, meaning 28 have not been approved by the FIE under the IOC's recommendations.

Malagò told Italian news agency ANSA that the Government had decided to sign "all the prescriptions of the IOC to allow Russians and Belarusians to participate in competitions in a neutral capacity, even on Italian territory".

Sofia Pozdniakova, the daughter of the Russian Olympic Committee President, is one of the athletes to have been blocked ©Getty Images
Sofia Pozdniakova, the daughter of the Russian Olympic Committee President, is one of the athletes to have been blocked ©Getty Images

Italian Sports Minister Andrea Abodi had lobbied Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani to reach the decision, with Malagò and Italian Fencing Federation President Paolo Azzi also in favour of it.

"The restrictions and obligations to which they have been subjected have greatly annoyed the Russians and Belarusians, so much so that out of 39 athletes registered for the World Fencing Championships, 11 will be able to participate, moreover not at the top of the rankings," said Malagò.

Among the Russians blocked from the World Championships is Sofia Pozdniakova, who won individual and team gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and is the daughter of Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, himself a four-time Olympic champion.

Inna Deriglazova, Sofya Velikaya, Yana Egorian, Adelina Zagidullina, Marta Martyanova, Olga Nikitina and Larisa Korobeynikova have also been barred, with the group boasting several Olympic titles between them.

Anton Borodachev, Kirill Borodachev, Vladislav Mylnikov and Timur Safin have been blocked on the men's side.

The World Championships are due to take place at Milan Convention Center between July 22 and 30.

Ukraine has said it will boycott any sporting events where Russians are present.

insidethegames has asked the FIE for the list of eligible fencers.