(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – In the best interest of the health and safety of all competitors, tournament staff and event participants, a series of protocols have been put into place which can be found in the Health and Safety Best Practices for the Resumption of National Events.
Participants in all national events this season, including the April North American Cup in Fort Worth from April 16-19, are advised to review the best practices, including the following areas:
All participants in the tournament, including athletes and staff as well as all coaches or other credentialed individuals, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result in order to enter the facility. The COVID-19 PCR test must be taken no more than 72 hours prior to the start of travel for all credentialed individuals.
USA Fencing has entered into a partnership with Inspire Diagnostics to offer mail-in PCR testing kits with no out of pocket cost to all NAC participants and staff. Those who have registered for the April NAC or have been hired as tournament staff will receive further details regarding access to this testing. Tournament participants are NOT required to use this testing method; however, it is being made available as a USA Fencing member benefit for those who choose to utilize the service.
Individuals who have completed the COVID vaccine series prior to the competition must still obtain a negative PCR test result in order to participate in a USA Fencing national event. Throughout the course of the season, as guidelines and recommendations for individuals who have been completely vaccinated change and evolve, new updates may be put into place for vaccinated individuals.
The tournament venue will have four competition rooms / halls: one for each weapon as well as a finals room. Individuals will receive a color-coded wristband for the appropriate hall for their competition and should not attempt to go into any of the other halls at any time. An additional credential will be used to grant access into the finals room for those who qualify for video replay rounds.
Hand sanitizer and bleach wipes will be available throughout the venue for use. Competition halls will be closed and cleaned in between each event. A full venue clean will be done overnight each night by the convention center staff.
Tournament participants are encouraged to bring their own water to the venue. Touchless water stations also will be available throughout the venue.
All events will have a scheduled equipment check time. A schedule will be posted in the Athlete Packet once these times are finalized. Fencers will not be permitted to check equipment any earlier than the scheduled time. All armorers will be required to wear masks and protective gloves to avoid direct contact with equipment and athletes. Barrier shields will be mounted on the front of the armory tables to separate the armorers and fencers during the inspection process.
Everyone must submit to daily health checks before entering the venue, including:
As announced in October 2020, all participants in USA Fencing events MUST wear a face mask that covers mouth and nose at all times, including competition. This includes athletes, coaches, staff and officials. Although individual states may have varying guidelines regarding masks, each of the convention centers in which national events will be held currently have a mandatory mask policy. Virginia currently has mandatory mask policies. In Fort Worth, businesses that have mandatory policies or strongly encourage mask usage can be found at www.fortworth.com/staystrong/.
The April, May and June NACs will NOT be open to outside spectators; however, each competing athlete will receive credential access for one additional individual which may be a coach OR another accompanying individual, such as a family member. Athletes can register this person at the time of registration. This individual also is subject to the COVID-19 test restrictions as listed above. In order to enter the venue, any individuals who are not athletes or tournament staff must have be credentialed with an athlete.
All current Member and Affiliate Clubs that have athletes competing will be permitted to have one (1) current Coach Member register to coach their athletes in each event. Additional staff will need to be credentialed as the plus one with a competing athlete.
Athletes who finish in the top eight at the April, May or June NACs will be able to pick up their medals at the Satellite Bout Committee in the finals room.
Awards ceremonies will resume in July with socially distant COVID-19 protocols.
Research has shown that virus transmission occurs at higher rates when individuals scream or yell due to the increased propulsion of droplets through the air. Accordingly, yelling after a touch, or at any time during a bout, will be prohibited. As this is a significant change to a habit for many fencers, referees are advised to verbally warn fencers rather than issuing an immediate penalty. If, after warnings, the referee determines an athlete is deliberately violating the reminder not to scream, the referee can award a Group 1 penalty for refusal to obey the referee resulting in a yellow card for the first infraction and red cards for subsequent infractions. The referee also has the authority to award a Group 3 penalty for disturbing order on the strip which results in a red card for the first infraction and a black card and exclusion from the tournament for subsequent infractions.
Athletes are to salute at the conclusion of a bout in lieu of shaking hands with each other, the referee or coaches.
Everyone should practice proper social distancing measures at all times while in the venue. Floor decals and signage will be placed around the venue as reminders.
The Bout Committee area will be set up with barrier shields to separate members of the Bout Committee from tournament participants. No more than one fencer will be permitted at the table at which each Bout Committee official is stationed. All other fencers for that event should wait behind the line until called by the officials member to come forward. Athletes must ensure 6 feet between themselves and any others waiting in line.
Bout Committee officials will not take the bout slips from the fencers. Each slip will have a barcode which will be scanned by the fencer. Slips will be scanned by the fencer, and the BC official will record the score on the computer while the slip is shown to them. Once completed, the slip will be dropped in a box by the fencer, on the side of the table closest to them and furthest from the BC official.
All tournament officials will be placed in single hotel rooms for the 2020-21 season.
In rest and meal areas, tables will be at least 6 feet apart, and the number of chairs stationed at each table will be reduced to allow for social distancing as appropriate. Lunch will be determined by local venue protocols. Meals will be prepackaged or served by venue staff to minimize the need for shared serving utensils. Disposable sets of napkins and silverware will be provided in officials meal rooms. Bottled water will be provided for tournament officials. Community games and other shared items will be removed from officials’ break areas until further notice.