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USA Fencing Announces Changes to Mask Policy for Tournament Attendees

08/10/2022, 9:38am CDT
By Amanda Mastera & Bryan Wendell

Tournament attendees will no longer be required to wear masks at USA Fencing-sanctioned tournaments. The change, which applies to tournaments held at the local, regional and national level, is effective immediately.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — After careful consultation with our health partners, tournament officials and relevant committee members, USA Fencing announced today that tournament attendees will no longer be required to wear masks at USA Fencing-sanctioned tournaments. The change, which applies to USA Fencing-sanctioned tournaments held at the local, regional and national level, is effective immediately. 

As we enter this next phase of the pandemic, USA Fencing continues to monitor public health policies, and the latest guidance from the CDC — while also researching the best practices of other national governing bodies and event organizers. 

While masks are now optional, our vaccine requirement (see below) remains in place for all national tournaments, including the October North American Cup in Minneapolis, Minn., and the December North American Cup in Salt Lake City, Utah. Should this requirement be modified in any way, we’ll provide an update to all members as soon as possible. (Medical and religious exemptions continue to be available. To apply for an exemption, find the applicable form here.)

The updates being announced today include the following:

  • Masks are now optional at USA Fencing-sanctioned tournaments at the local, regional and national levels. Tournament attendees are welcome to continue wearing a mask if they wish to do so.
  • If local regulations at the venue/city hosting a sanctioned tournament require masks to be worn, USA Fencing’s policy for that particular event will revert to the stricter local requirement. (For example, if a local government institutes a mandatory mask policy within its city limits, a tournament operated in that city will follow those stricter requirements.)
  • USA Fencing reserves the right to change this policy at any time if adjustments are deemed necessary for the safety of attendees.
  • The FIE (International Fencing Federation) will still have final jurisdiction over health and safety protocols for international events. USA Fencing’s health and safety policies do not apply to FIE-level competitions held in the United States or abroad.

Dr. Peggy Chin, Director of Sports Medicine at USA Fencing, encourages members of the fencing community to continue to be vigilant even as we begin this mask-optional phase. 

“We have a deep responsibility to keep fencers, staff and spectators safe during our hosted and sanctioned events,” Dr. Chin says. “While we will be lifting the mask mandate, the CDC recommends everyone continue to exercise safety precautions such as testing before traveling, staying at home if you test positive or feel sick, practicing frequent hand hygiene, and observing social distancing when possible.”

As the official medical service providers for USA Fencing, Dr. Mariam Zakhary and her colleagues at Mount Sinai Health Systems manage fencing injuries off the strip at their New York based facilities. At national and international events, they work in collaboration with a multidisciplinary sports medicine team comprised of chiropractors, athletic trainers, and physical therapists to keep fencers safely on the strip throughout the competition weekend.

“COVID has changed the world of sports, and sports medicine, and we experienced it firsthand as a team,” she says. “It has been a privilege seeing these athletes through COVID exposures and infections and being able to clear them to compete again. I have seen them overcome the struggles of a global pandemic alongside their athletic injuries, and I could not be prouder to have been part of this journey with them.”

One More Note

“Masks,” in the context of this story, refer to respirators, surgical masks, face masks and barrier face coverings used to protect the wearer from particles or from liquid contaminating the face. Fencers are, of course, still required to wear approved protective fencing masks during competition! The wearing of face masks under fencing masks became optional in May 2022.

Providing Your Proof of Vaccination

Individuals who have completed a COVID vaccine series (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Novavak, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Covaxin, or CoronaVac) 14 days prior to arrival at the venue will NOT need to obtain a negative PCR test result.

  • Participating athletes ages 12 and older must have uploaded their vaccination cards onto their membership profile for approval from the national office. Please reach out to nationalevents@usafencing.org if your vaccination verification is still pending or if you have any questions on why your vaccination entry was denied. 
  • Participating athletes ages 11 and under must provide proof of vaccination through their membership profile OR a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours of arrival at the venue. Only one of these pieces of documentation will be required for each individual — NOT both, and participants ages 11 and under are NOT required to be vaccinated.
  • All other attendees — coaches, spectators and staff — ages 12 and older will be required to present proof of vaccination. Coaches and staff can submit their vaccination card onto their own membership profile or bring a copy to the venue. Spectators can create a free profile and submit their vaccination card there or simply bring a copy for verification onsite. If you've uploaded your card into your profile, you'll be able to quickly scan your membership ID at registration.  
  • All other attendees ages 3 to 11 will be required to present proof of vaccination OR a negative PCR test result. 

COVID-19 Testing for Medical or Religious Exempt Individuals

All attendees of the tournament, ages 12 and older, who are not vaccinated must submit a religious or medical exemption request to the National Office for review. If an individual has been approved for a medical or religious exemption, he or she must provide their approval email received from the National Office, as well as a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. This includes athletes and staff, as well as all coaches and spectators. PCR test results must be from within 72 hours prior to arrival at the venue. Proof of your negative COVID-19 test result and exemption must be presented to a USA Fencing staff member at registration for verification.

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