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Female fencers down swords in Zurich

Swiss fencer Hablützel-Bürki backed the strike as a way of sending the sport's administrators a message

(Keystone Archive)

Female fencers have refused to take part in a world cup tournament in Zurich in protest at new international federation rules.

A majority of those due to take part in Saturday's event decided to boycott the tournament as part of an ongoing protest against a recent decision taken by the Swiss-based International Fencing Federation to abandon the team category in future Olympic tournaments.

The new rules concerning fencing categories are due to come in to force in time for the 2004 summer games in Athens.

Among those world-class fencers who had been due to participate in the Zurich tournament were Basel's Gianna Hablützel-Bürki and Valais-born Sophie Lamon.

The fencers made it clear their protest was not directed at organisers of Saturday's tournament - known as the Zurich Challenge - but was an attempt to get their message across to the international federation.

A meeting to resolve the dispute between athletes and the federation is due to take place at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the Swiss city of Lausanne next Wednesday.

swissinfo with agencies

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