We are going into the second year of the pandemic. Unlike our hopes, the curling season 2020/21 has ended for most European curlers very early. Our last blog post dates from Octobre 2020 and tells about the frustration of Swiss Curling because of a new lockdown. We at curling.zone asked one of the leading men in the curling industry, Goldline’s Vice President Andrew Brett, to give us his views about the situation and the future.
Corona hits Europe again after a relatively calm summer. Curling restarted everywhere. Now a few countries like Slovenia and the Czech Republik are under full lockdown. But one of Europe’s largest curling nations, Switzerland, surprised on Friday, Octobre, 23rd.
Canton Bern, comparable to a state, decided
To minimize the spread of corona infections, the regional government of Bern has ruled a full range of measures.
Kanton Bern, Mediarelease – Translation by curling.zone
Part of the measures is a lockdown on all sport and fitness centers. The lockdown went into action only a few hours after the media release on midnight of the same day.
In Biel a curling tournament was interrupted and cancelled as a consequence.
Tom Seger from SWISSCURLING: “We are puzzled”
curling.zone talked today in an exclusive interview with Tom Seger, CEO of SWISSCURLING.
In a first reaction he told us, how surprised he was, when he learned on late friday afternoon of the decision in Bern. While he states full support for all measures leading to a safe environment for sport, he seems not to be convinced of the necessety to act on such short notice. He points out, that SWISSCURLING has been working with all important parties on safety concepts. He is convinced that the resulting set of rules would allow safe sport. Seger would go no further in commenting the situation because of the ongoing, fast moving situation. Coming Wednesday, Bundesrätin Viola Amhert, (member of the Swiss government/minister) will meet the sport associations at a round table talk. Tom Seger asked us to relay his gratefulness to all who had been working to get this curling season going. He shares their frustration and expresses his hope for help from politics.
What is the Situation?
First, the lockdown is right now only in place in parts of Switzerland. These are regional, not national measures. In Europe most lockdowns during the second wave habe been local and restricted in length.
Second, the training can go on for all curlers who will go to the Olympic Games or belong to the Swiss national cadre.
The situation for “Euro Super Sterile” in Genf on Novembre, 3rd is completely open. The plan was to hold a series of four tournaments with the top European teams without spectators. Now the whole work of months is in peril.
As we reported, Curling was hit worldwide by the Corona Pandemic. The various countermeasures had a huge impact on curling. The situation has improved. We look at the new curling season 2020/21 and see how Corona impacts.
The Canadian Curling Association is seen by many as a sort of leader. As such we think it makes sense to watch how the world’s largest curling federation will be dealing with the situation.
I’M PLEASED TO TELL YOU THERE IS A PATH FORWARD AS WE PLAN FOR THE NEXT CURLING SEASON … IN BRINGING CURLING BACK TO CANADIANS
How will the next Curling Season be safe for everyone?
The Guidelines were published on July 6, 2020 and are devided into several areas of action. They build on everyone within the curling community from officials to the players and also integrate the authorities.
The Basics Principles of living with the Pandemic
The guidelines build on the general rules with which we are all familiar by now.
stay home when you belong the a special risk group
stay at home when you have symptoms
Curling Canada urges players and curling centres alike to follow the rules and do everything to make it possible to follow the rules. This includes for the curling centres to update their cleaning protocol. Cleaning surfaces and providing sanitizing dispensers for example. Curling equipment should be cleaned after each use. But also organizing the traffic flow. One door for entry, one for exit, less chairs for the tables and so on.
Playing the Game
Many players around the world discussed, if and how rules might need to change. Here is what Curling Canada advises. In brakes always open doors for fresh air. The traditional handshake give way to a friendly wave. No coin tossing. The players should stay always on one side of the sheet to maximise distance to the next rink. The basic principles are to keep a maximum of distancing. This includes not to use the full capacity. But also to make events longer in order to have two starting times and less people in the ice.
Corona changes curling rules The most radical change is that only one sweeper is allowed. No relaying to a second sweeper and the skip is also banned from sweeping.
We should all be aware, how difficult the situation is for curling sport. If there are setbacks, the economic situation of clubs and the curling industry as a whole will be under even more stress. The officials face a difficult task. Defining rules for a safe game while maintaining the fun of the curling sport is a very big enterprise. And there is no example in the past to learn from.
Like here in Europe, the Curling Season 2019/20 ended also in Canada early. 2 days before the event, the WCF cancelled the World’s Women Curing Championships to be held in British Columbia. On March, 16th, Curling Canada issued a statement that ended the season in Canada:
Corona in Canada
Canada seems to have reached the peak of new cases around April, 22nd with around 1,800 cases per day and two weeks later the number of daily deaths seems to have topped short of 200. Since then both numbers are in decline. Actually there are 400 new cases and around 50 deaths per day, but still more than 32,000 active cases.
The Consequences for Public Tournaments
As we all know by now, “social distancing” is the main way the governments us right now to stop the virus from spreading. Concerning Curling Tournaments this has grave consequences for financing. Most tournaments need spectators to pay the bills. Empty stadions like we see it now in European football are in most cases not possible. Tickets are just one part of financing these events. From presentations of producers to booths of local dealers of curling supplies, there are many sources of money. Not to forget the kiosk that sells beer and hot dogs. Without these funds, it gets difficult. Very difficult. Events have to be planned long way and nobody knows, which rules will apply at the time of an event. Worst case would be an event cancelled on short notice, but all the contracs already done.
What’s the situation right now over the Atlantic?
That corona is able to strike curlers on the rink is not in doubt. Nobody has forgot how after a bonspiel in Edmonton 40 of the 73 participants tested positiv. Even more so, as it was an event for medical professionals. So how is it going to continue in the country where curling is a mass sport? One of the earliest events this upcoming season, the “Shorty Jenkins Classic” to be held in September in Ontario has already been cancelled. Already on May, 8th came the sad news whenGord McCrady Jr. posted:
The News is, that there are not many news.
The “Grand Slam of Curling” offers tickets for events from October, 20th – no word about the virus. Also Curling Canada goes on selling tickets for events from November onwards. World Curling Tour seems to have cancelled already some events. The Canad Inn’s on Octobre, 9th had, after having been cancelled in 2019 due to a storm, been cancelled again. But -to sum it up- so far, there are not many news. Most event organizers seem to wait for a clearer picture. And that is no surprise as Curling Canada still “looks at thing day by day” as their CEO Katherin Henderson told CBC in late May. Right now, there seems to be no plan, but a set of scenarios even for essentials like qualifications to the Olympics.
Jill Richard, the executive of Curling Alberta, has acted already. This upcoming season Alberta hosts the “Provincial Curling Championships.” News is, that instead of a men’s and a women’s event, there will be just one combined event in Calgary in January 2021. Hopefully this creates an event large enough to carry the costs and attract enough attention.
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