The International Fencing Federation (FIE) has announced a support plan to the value of 1 million Swiss francs as part of its efforts to minimise the damage caused to the sport by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unprecedented plan will supplement the existing FIE annual aid programmes and provide much-needed support to fencing federations, confederations, competition organisers, athletes and referees.
International fencing action has been on hold since March, when the FIE took the decision to postpone all events because of concerns over the spread of coronavirus. At the same time, the sport is bracing itself for the financial impact of the postponement of Tokyo 2020, with the income that fencing stands to receive for its participation in the Games set to be deferred until next year.
Under the new support plan, all FIE member federations and confederations will receive an exceptional allocation worth 4,000 Swiss francs. Membership fees for 2020 have been cancelled, as have all competition organising fees payable since January 2020 and for the entirety of the 2020-21 season.
The FIE had previously offered targeted financial grants to support the participation of one fencer per federation at the 2020 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships. Following the cancellation of that event, the grants have been reallocated to the 2021 Junior Zonal Championships. The support plan also provides for an “exceptional allocation” to referees who were nominated for the 2019-20 season.
FIE President Alisher Usmanov said that the measures had been taken “in the spirit of solidarity and unity” for the good of the “global fencing family” .
“Our world is challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, with tremendous health, economic, physical and psychological consequences”, said Mr. Usmanov. “Fencers and federations have been forced to abruptly cease all activities.”
He continued: “Throughout its long and glorious history as one of the original Olympic sports, fencing has endured and overcome difficult obstacles. Rest assured the FIE is working tirelessly to protect our athletes and entire organization to ensure future competitions safely take place.”
As yet, no indication has been given as to when international fencing action will resume. In the UK, most of the events that were put on hold earlier in the year remain postponed. However, British Fencing indicated in May that a new date and location had been provisionally set for the 2020 Senior Nationals, with more announcements on rescheduled competitions to follow in due course.