Things are continuing to evolve in the realm of fencing thanks to COVID-19. New developments from FIE are coming to our attention consistently, particularly now that the Olympics have been officially postponed to July 2021.
Recently there has been a letter circulating on Instagram that appears to be officially from FIE and that addresses what things will look like for international competition and Olympic qualification in the wake of coronavirus. We should point out that we have not been able to find this information in an official capacity directly from FIE, but the letter looks legitimate and so we thought we would address it. You’ll find an image of it above. (Edit 4/16/2020 – the source is here)
FIE response to Coronavirus
Let’s break down what this letter says. Basically, here’s what you’ve got:
- the rankings are frozen where they were when things began to be canceled in March of this year.
- all international competitions are suspended for April, May, and June
- plans to re-engage competitions will not begin until the global situation is deemed safe
That’s the basics, though you can read more deeply to find out further specifics. This is of course a constantly evolving situation.
Understanding the FIE’s decision
This decision is interesting, because it also gives the current leaders (teams and individuals) their ability to preserve their standing for now. That is good news for the USA teams as we have already qualified all six teams, three weapons with two genders each.
FIE has decided not to start from scratch for the 2020 Olympics (which will now happen in 2021). This means that there will not be many surprises, precisely because some teams are already qualified.
Now to the question to the federations and in particular to USA Fencing. Will they freeze the country’s internal individual ranking in a similar way as FIE? What competitions will count toward qualification? These are the questions that are pushing against us now because this might change things dramatically for the country’s fencers. This FIE’s letter definitely gave a clarity on the international level, which is great and was much needed. Some people will not like it, some will. I personally think that having a plan is a great thing. Now, early in the game of this whole scenario, will know what the international rules are and have a good sense of direction.
Dates are still unclear, but that is the nature of this situation and we will all have to wait for that to unfold. There is a hint in the letter – the conditions of resuming qualifying events are based on situation everywhere and also the ability of athletes to return to normal preparation. Given that, I think all these events will happen around the same time frame as those which were cancelled, namely in March and April next year, maybe a bit earlier. This will give a good year to the world to fight off this pandemic, and will “guarantee “ the federations have enough time to clear their situation if their countries are still affected later this year. It will also make sure the athletes have the time they need.
However you look at it, knowing is a good thing. Knowledge is power as they say, and so now we can feel a little more power in a time that is marked by feelings of not having any control. It is a step towards the future and to fencing getting back on track!