The Swedish Fencing Federation has reported the sport’s world governing body to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over what it says are breaches of ethics related to the awarding of the 2024 junior World Championships to Saudi Arabia.
The move comes after a speech by the president of the Swedish Fencing Federation (SFF) Otto Drakenberg at the International Fencing Federation (FIE) congress in Lausanne was disrupted as he tried to raise concerns about human rights.
“The questions I tried to raise during my speech were about security for our athletes in a country at war, a country that doesn’t accept full rights for women,” Drakenberg told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“Not only does not it accept, but it has punishments and the death penalty for other sexual preferences, what we call LGBT people, and my point is that we must ask ourselves questions and I wanted us to think (about these things) at the congress.”
The FIE did not immediately respond when contacted by Reuters for comment.
Video footage from the event shows Drakenberg, who represented the Swedes at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, being drowned out while making his speech by delegates drumming on desks and shouting over him before he angrily raises his voice to continue.
Saudi Arabia was the only candidate to host the 2024 junior and cadet championships, and the SFF has said in a statement that it has reported the incident to the IOC as a breach of ethics, alleging that the FIE breached principles of good governance by not ensuring Drakenberg was allowed to speak.
The Swedes also said the awarding of the event to Saudi Arabia breached universal principles of good governance as it was done “without assessing sustainable development criteria.”
Drakenberg said he was disappointed that other countries did not back him in his efforts to speak before the vote to award the event to the Saudis.
“I had hoped that some from western countries, from North America or Europe or somesuch, would stand up and want to discuss,” he said. “What is most shocking is not that some who are against me shouted and made noise - it’s that no-one else stood up,” Drakenberg said.
The 56-year-old, who has sat on the board of some of Sweden’s largest companies, said that he hopes that other countries will now speak up in support of the Swedes.