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Curling championships cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

Mayor Lyn Hall speaks to media following the announcement earlier Thursday that the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championships, which were slated to get underway in Prince George Saturday, have been postponed due to concerns around COVID-19. Bill Phillips photo

The World Curling Federation has cancelled the World Women’s Curling Championship 2020, in Canada, due to the ongoing spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The event was set to take place March 14-22, in Prince George, with 13 members associations competing for the world title and Olympic qualification points for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Cameron MacAllister of the World Curling Federation

“It’s with great disappointment that we make this announcement today but it’s the right decision,” said Cameron MacAllister of the World Curling Federation.

He said organizers have been monitoring the situation for a number of weeks and made the decision to cancel Thursday morning. Cancellation of other sporting events and travel restrictions played a factor in making the final decision, he said. Still up in the air the men’s championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mayor Lyn Hall, along with the rest of the community, is obviously disappointed in the decision. He felt particularly bad for the close to 400 volunteers who had signed up to help. Many of them were in CN Centre as the announcement was being made, taking down all the equipment that they had just put up.

“It was a disappointing announcement,” he said. “But I think it was absolutely the right decision based on what we’ve seen in the last 24 hours.”

He said since the 2015 Canada Winter Games in the city, Hall and the city, have pushed to host world calibre events in the city.

“We’ve had the fortunate ability to do that,” he said. “Today is just the opposite, it’s a very sad time.”

He said the city is taking precautions in all of its facilities as the virus works its way around the world. The city has implemented the World Health Organization guidelines for cleaning facilities.

“We have a number of events coming up over the next few months and that will be a decision made by the committees of those events whether to proceed or not,” Hall said. “ … There’s no question that this is an economic blow to our community, but it’s also a blow to the organizers. It has a huge impact on everyone economically … But I set that aside when I aside when I look at the community and think there’s a lot more to what we do in this city.”

However, he said he feels confident the city will someday host a world curling championship.

The decision comes following a recommendation from British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, which was made after careful deliberation with local public health officials and the event organisers.

 “It’s with regret we’re announcing it is no longer possible to run this world championship,” said World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness. “However, the safety of our athletes, officials, staff and supporters is paramount which we cannot guarantee with the fast-evolving nature of this worldwide situation.”

For those who have already purchased tickets for the event refunds will be made available at the original point of purchase after March 23. If tickets were purchased online through ticketsnorth.ca refunds will be processed automatically.

Finally, there is an ongoing evaluation into the LGT World Men’s (in Glasgow, Scotland), World Mixed Doubles, World Senior (both in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) and European C-Division (Ljubljana, Slovenia) Curling Championships 2020 to be played in the coming weeks. Communication on them will be made separately as is appropriate.

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