Fencing is one of the few Olympic sports to have acknowledged professionals prior to the 1980s. In fact, the original Olympic rules, written by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, specifically stated that professional fencers, known as “masters”, could compete.
Men’s fencing has been contested at every edition of the Olympic Games since the inaugural Games in 1896. Women’s fencing appeared shortly afterwards, in 1924. Today, men and women compete in team and individual events using the foil, épée and sabre.
Individual competition has a direct-elimination format, whilst in the team events, teams of three duel each member of the opposing team. Duels are held on a 14 by 1.5-metre “piste”, or playing area. Through wires and special clothing, fencers are connected to an electronic scoring system that indicates if a hit has occurred.