Per Palmström, the former vice-president of the Swedish Fencing Federation, has spoken of his frustration that the IOC was not willing to investigate his complaint about the FIE ©Per Palmström

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has refused to investigate allegations that the International Fencing Federation (FIE) violated ethics rules by attempting to silence a Swedish official when he questioned the choice of Saudi Arabia as the host of a major event.

Otto Drakenberg, head of the Swedish Fencing Federation (SFF), was faced with several attempts by delegates to stop him from expressing his views against Saudi Arabia's unchallenged bid to host 2024 Cadet and Junior World Championships at a heated FIE Ordinary Congress last November.

The SFF filed a complaint to the IOC's ntegrity hotline last month, alleging that the FIE infringed the IOC Code of Ethics' "Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance within the Olympic Movement".

Per Palmström, the former vice-president of both the SFF and Swedish Olympic Committee, also claimed that the FIE breached a further ethics rule for awarding the event without "assessing sustainable development criteria", including human rights and gender equality.

He argued that female and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) fencers will not travel to Saudi Arabia to participate in the World Championships "without running the risk of being discriminated and facing repression, legal challenges and even the death penalty".

insidethegames has now obtained email correspondence between Palmström and the IOC which ruled that it had "no jurisdiction to intervene" in the matter.

"Pursuant to the scope of application of the IOC Ethics Commission, the points raised in your report, being external to the relation between an IF and the IOC, fall under the sole jurisdiction of the International Fencing Federation," the IOC wrote.

Attempts were made to silence Swedish Fencing Federation President Otto Drakenberg when expressing his concerns over the awarding of the 2024 Cadet and Junior World Championships to Saudi Arabia ©SFF
Attempts were made to silence Swedish Fencing Federation President Otto Drakenberg when expressing his concerns over the awarding of the 2024 Cadet and Junior World Championships to Saudi Arabia ©SFF

After further email exchanges, Palmström accepted the IOC’s request to send his complaint to the FIE’s Ethics Commission.

"We inform you that we have shared today such content with the FIE who will contact you directly in relation to the situation you have reported," the IOC wrote.

Palmström had he had "no reason to doubt the integrity" of the individual members of the FIE Ethics Committee but questioned whether they would rule in favour of his complaint when it was against the worldwide governing body.

"It’s like letting a group of Russians, appointed by Vladimir Putin, to investigate and assess the atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine," Palmström wrote.

Palmström told insidethegames: "I do not agree with the IOC’s assessment and decision to close the case but I still want to have the matter tried and therefore gave my consent for the IOC to share the details of my report with the FIE."

In a video of the meeting obtained by insidethegames, loud noises can be heard in the room in an attempt to drown out Drakenberg when he questioned how welcome LGBTQ+ fencers will be in Saudi Arabia, whether there will be any restrictions on female participants and how secure the tournament will be in a country that is at war.

Egypt's FIE vice-president Abdelmoneim Elhamy El Husseiny also tried to interrupt Drakenberg, telling him to "stop it immediately" which was greeted by applause in the room but the Swedish official refused to give up on voicing his views.

Critics have accused the Saudi regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud of sportswashing and seeking to distract from its record on human rights, including the state-ordered assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, its role in the bombing in Yemen, harsh restrictions in place on women's rights and its use of the death penalty.