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Face Masks Under Fencing Masks Now Optional for Fencers During Bouts

05/10/2022, 8:00am CDT
By Bryan Wendell

The changes, which are effective immediately, apply to USA Fencing-sanctioned events. As a result of the change, the direct elimination period break will return to 60 seconds.


Magda Skarbonkiewiz (left) and Zoe Kim battle during the finals of the Division I women's saber championships in April in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Serge Timacheff)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Fencing, after gathering feedback from members, volunteer-led committees and medical experts, has announced that fencers will no longer be required to wear a face mask under their fencing mask during bouts in which they are competing.

The change, which is effective immediately, applies to USA Fencing-sanctioned events, including local, regional and national tournaments.

To arrive at this decision, USA Fencing met with experts from Mount Sinai Health System, the official medical service provider of USA Fencing, as well as consulting with representatives from the Referees’ Commission and Tournament Committee. 

Now that face masks have become optional for fencers during bouts, USA Fencing has also announced that the rest period during direct elimination bouts will return to 60 seconds. This break had been extended to 90 seconds to give athletes additional rest and recovery time while wearing face masks under their fencing masks during competition.

While face masks are now optional for athletes during bouts in which they are competing, fencers will still be required to wear two-layer cloth masks or surgical face coverings at all other times when they are in the competition venue, including in between bouts. Masks remain required at all times for coaches, tournament officials, referees and spectators. Our vaccine mandate remains unchanged.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, USA Fencing and our partners at Mount Sinai will continually monitor the latest conditions and announce policy changes at the appropriate time. Final health protocols for the 2022 Summer Nationals in Minneapolis will be communicated with registered attendees in June.

USA Fencing thanks our members for their diligence and cooperation. Together, we can ensure the health and safety of our members remains our top priority.

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