By Gina Capellazzi, website administrator
The 2020 World Figure Skating Championships, scheduled to be held in Montreal, have been cancelled due to the COVID-19, coronavirus.
Skate Canada and the International Skating Union (ISU), were informed March 11 by the Government of Quebec that they have decided to cancel the event that was scheduled to take place from March 16-22, 2020 in Montreal at Bell Centre. In a press conference Wednesday, Quebec’s health minister Danielle McCann said they decided to cancel the event because of “the risk of transmission of the virus.”
“We fully respect the difficult decision made today,” the ISU said in its statement March 11 in response to the decision. “Like the authorities, the ISU and Skate Canada are committed to the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators.”
In its statement, the ISU said, “considering the current uncertain developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, a rescheduling and/or relocation of the world championships within the current season, even if the season would be extended by several weeks after its normal end in early April, cannot be reasonably considered. ”
The ISU said it will evaluate whether the event could possibly be held later in the year, but stated that in any case it would not happen before October 2020. “Before taking a final decision, the ISU will remain in close contact with Skate Canada and ISU Members.”
During a conference call with the media Wednesday evening, Skate Canada CEO Debra Armstrong acknowledged that they are working with the ISU on possibly rescheduling the event.
“We will do our due diligence together [with the ISU] to see whether or not that it can be done and if it is possible,” she said.
Armstrong said Skate Canada has had “very preliminary conversations” with officials at the Bell Centre, who have provided them with “some possible opportunities at the arena for them to consider.”
“It is not just ‘can we get the rink again?’, there are so many considerations that we need to work through in terms of what it takes to run an event like this,” Armstrong said. “We will take all those considerations under advisement in the coming days.”
Skate Canada said the fans who purchased tickets through the Evenko, the event’s ticket provider, will receive details on the refund process in the coming days.
The World Championships has only been cancelled 16 times since 1896. The last instance was in 1961 when members of the U.S. Figure Skating team were killed in a plane crash while on their way to the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 2011, the World Championships were delayed by a few weeks and re-located from Tokyo to Moscow due to the earthquake in Japan.
2020 Team USA World Team reaction to the cancellation
“While Timothy and I are saddened by these circumstances, we support the decision of Quebec’s Minister of Health to cancel the World Championships due to COVID-19. The health of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, and fans is most important. We know all our fellow competitors have been training super hard and it’s ok to be disappointed, sending y’all love today.”
–Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc (via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
“Brian and I are saddened to hear that the World Championships have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Although we had hoped to show you our programs one last time, we completely understand the circumstances. The health of the athletes, judges, officials, volunteers & fans must always come first. Thank you everyone for the incredible support this season. We will see you guys soon! Stay safe.”
–Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson (via Instagram)
“Hard to put into words how torn I am right now. Half of me is shocked and disappointed that my hard work and training in the past few weeks ends this way, but the other half completely understand and respects the decision for the greater good. I hope everybody and their loved ones stay safe and healthy. Prayers to the affected. I will return next season more hungry and motivated than ever.”
–Vincent Zhou (via Twitter)
“We respect today’s decision to cancel Worlds knowing that it was made with the safety of everyone involved. While we are disappointed to not perform our programs one last time in our adopted home city, we are looking forward to competing again in the future when the safety of all the skaters, coaches, judges and fans is secure. Until then, take care and stay healthy.”
–Madison Chock and Evan Bates (via Twitter and Instagram)
All of us athletes have prepared long and hard for this competition and I think the majority of us are ready to compete, however, given the current situation and everything that has been going on and given how quickly this virus has spread across the world, this was definitely the right move. So despite everything that happens in skating, this is definitely the right move for the populace as a whole. Even before this decision was made I was concerned about people around me. I was worried about Raf (coach Rafael Arutunian) He has been traveling a lot and I was just concerned about his health and of course, all the other people around me.. Ultimately, I’m glad they are able to stay at home, to stay where they are, to sort of prevent the spread of this virus. But of course, as an athlete, we put a lot of time and effort into this, so it’s a little disappointing. But there’s always worlds next year, and we will prepare for that.”
–Nathan Chen (in media conference call)
“It is obviously disappointing to hear the news of the cancelation of this year’s World Championships. All the athletes have worked really hard, but I certainly understand there are bigger things than sport and protecting people from this virus, especially those at higher risk, is really important. I had a great season this year and I’m really looking forward to building on that for next season.”
–Mariah Bell (in media conference call)