The IOC voted against awarding two more medal events to fencing for the 2012 Olympic Games. This came as the IOC voted to include 3 weight classes for women’s boxing and also made changes to the canoeing and modern pentathlon events.

Ever since Women’s Sabre was introduced in 2004, the IOC has maintained that the FIE may only have 10 medal events at the Olympics. This has resulted in a rotation in the team events so that each Olympic cycle two team events are left out.

In 2004 Women’s Sabre and Women’s Foil were removed, in 2008 it was Men’s Foil and Women’s Epee.

Once the FIE makes the decision as to which team events will be contested in 2008, countries will begin to gear up their team training for zonal qualifications.

US Olympian Tim Morehouse stated on his blog:

"Who will be left out in London 2012? The fate of many athletes careers and funding of programs hangs in the balance. The likely candidates for the men will be men’s Saber or Epee. For the women, it could be women’s epee or women’s saber who won’t be fielding teams."

{sidebar id=1}There was hope among the fencing community that the new FIE president, Usmanov, would be able to wield some clout with the IOC. In 2008 the IOC remarked that fencing was the cleanest refereed of the combat sports and despite the removal of Italian fencer Baldini from his Olympic qualification for a positive drug test, fencing remains a clean sport at the Olympic Games.

Those watching the IOC closely should not have held out too much hope for additional medals for fencing. Some may remark that women’s boxing got added, but they only added 3 out of a possible 11 weight classes and the IOC removed one of the men’s boxing weight classes to make room for the female athletes.

The IOC sent a letter explaining the decision to the FIE, which was then distributed to the various national federations.  In that letter the IOC stated:

Whilst the IOC Executive Board fully acknowledges the value that Fencing brings to the Olympic Games and recognizes the situation that prevails within the Fencing community, it decided to maintain the current events for the Games of the XXXth Olympiad in London.

It is important to note that this decision is valid for the London 2012 Games only. Following the 2012 Olympic Games, a new review of events, format and quote will be conducted for the 2016 Games.

Women’s boxing was necessary for gender equity, and there is increased participation worldwide. Neither case can really be made for fencing at this point.

What that leaves the various federations, including the US, with is a level of uncertainty in athlete and team development. Look for each country in the FIE congress to vote for the teams where they are strongest since medals are on the line.