Only six years old and already ritualistic. Every year since 2017, fencing has celebrated its World Day all over the planet. It takes place on the second Saturday in September. It’s an unmissable event, marked with a thick line on the calendar by athletes, fencing masters, officials, volunteers and fans of the discipline.
For each edition, the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE) designates a theme. The theme reflects the values of the sport, as well as the priorities and commitments of its federations. In 2019, for the third year running, the theme was “Fencing for our planet“. Last year, at the end of a long period of health crisis, it explored a field in phase with the issues of the moment: “Fencing is for life“.
On Saturday, September 9, 2023, the world fencing community embraced a new theme: “Fencing is for everyone“. The aim: to deliver a message of inclusion and diversity. Throughout a day celebrated on every continent, to express the essence and values of a sport that has been part of the Olympic movement since the invention of the modern Games in 1896. To open wide the doors of clubs, venues, competitions and practice sites to athletes, officials and fans of all ages, origins, cultures and religions, from the most novice to the most accomplished and experienced.
The result? Massive. Proof of the discipline’s growing universality, initiatives have sprung up like ivy all over the planet. In Botswana, the federation organized an open-air demonstration and initiation session in a Gaborone park. In Nepal, a group of athletes and coaches gathered in a hotel to share a birthday cake. World Fencing Day was celebrated in Guatemala, Antigua and Barbuda, Indonesia, East Timor and Uzbekistan. In China, fencers and officials joined forces to produce a striking video showing improvised assaults on the Great Wall and in the Forbidden City.
The elite set an example. A video has collected messages from nearly fifteen individual and team medallists from the latest senior world championships in Milan. Kaylin Hsieh, the Chinese epeeist from Hong Kong, multiple medallist at the Asian championships, expressed herself on her Facebook account: “It’s not just about winning or losing, it’s about the journey and the person you become along the way.” Italy’s Valentina Vezzali, six-time Olympic foil champion, summed it up in a few words: “Fencing, my life forever.” Venezuelan Ruben Limardo Gascon, gold medallist in individual epee at the London 2012 Games and President of the FIE Athletes’ Commission, also chose social networks to deliver his message: “Fencing has enabled me to grow as an athlete and as a person.”
Everyone, in clubs and federations, from grassroots to elite, the FIE had asked to share images, videos, anecdotes and testimonials on social networks, Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube and LinkedIn. At the time of counting, the body counted over 130 posts. They reached over 607,000 people worldwide, for a total of 16,600 engagements. Fencing for everyone. And by as many people as possible.