Andriy Yagodka was among the Ukrainian fencers that competed in Plovdiv ©Getty Images

Ukrainian athletes were able to compete at the European Fencing Championships in Plovdiv where Russians and Belarusians were present without the risk of losing state funding after the country’s Sports Ministry adjusted its stance.

Ukraine was represented in three out of the six categories at the event which ran from June 16 to 18 in the Bulgarian city.

The tournament counted towards qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics after the International Fencing Federation (FIE) stripped the European Games in Kraków-Małopolska of its Olympic qualification status for individual competitions.

Klod Yunes, Andrii Pogrebniak, Danyil Hoida and Rostyslav Hertsyk contested the men’s foil, Olga Sopit, Alina Poloziuk, Dariia Myroniuk entered the women’s foil and Oleksiy Statsenko, Yuriy Tsap, Andriy Yagodka and Vasyl Humen participled in the men’s sabre.

All those divisions did not feature Russian and Belarusian athletes competing as neutral as Ukraine boycotted the three categories where the two countries were present.

"Our athletes did not compete [in men’s and women’s épée and women’s sabre], as athletes with Russian passports in neutral status took part in them," a statement from the Ukrainian Fencing Federation read as reported by Ukrainian newspaper Tribuna.

In April, the Ukraine’s Sports Ministry drafted a resolution to strip National Federations of their status and funding if they do not adhere to such a policy before it was officially adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers, the highest body of state executive power in the country.

The move has resulted in Ukrainian National Federations boycotting major events including the World Judo Championships in Doha and World Taekwondo Championships in Baku due to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral banner.

James Macleod, the IOC’s director of Olympic Solidarity and head of National Olympic Committee relations, branded the Government’s resolution as a "step too far".

Some Ukrainian judoka also questioned the Government’s decision after being denied the chance to compete despite Russian and Belarusian athletes not participating in their respective categories.

Under the previous decree published in April, there were five orders including one to "prohibit the official delegations of the national teams of Ukraine from Olympics, non-Olympic sports and sports for persons with disabilities from participating in international competitions in which athletes from the Russian Federation and/or the Republic of Belarus participate".

The word "prohibit" has now been removed with the resolution instead stating that teams "shall not send official delegations of athletes of the national teams of Ukraine from Olympic, non-Olympic sports and sports for persons with disabilities from participating in international competitions if in the type of competition from this sport (numbers, exercises, group exercises, crews, relays etc) athletes from the Russian Federation and/or the Republic of Belarus participate", as reported by Tribuna.

The change will be a boost for Ukrainian athletes in other sports in their bid to compete at next year’s Olympics in Paris.

Valeria Kobzeva was one of six fencers that had been selected by the Russian Fencing Federation for the European Championships.

Her name was then removed from the entry list after the Ukrainian Sports Ministry accused Kobzeva of breaching guidelines that allow athletes from Russia to compete as a neutral after being found to have liked posts by Team CSKA in support of the war in Ukraine.

In March, the FIE voted to allow Russian and Belarus competitors to take part under neutral flags, subject to International Olympic Committee IOC recommendations.

The regulations banned athletes affiliated to the armed forces and security services in Russia and also those who indicate support for the war in Ukraine.

Organisers of World Cup competitions in Bonn and Tauberbischofsheim in Germany, Poznań in Poland and Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in France all decided to pull the plug in response to the readmission of fencers from Russia and Belarus.