This piece, by Stuart Weir, is on the British Athletics Indoor Championships. We will continue to cover the pandemic in the UK and how it challlenges the sport.
How will athletes be selected to the 2021 European Indoor Athletics in March 2021. Stuart gives you the most current knowledge.
British Athletics Indoor Championships cancelled
British Athletics has ended speculation by confirming the rumours that the British Athletics Indoor Championships, due to be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena 20-21 February, has been cancelled.
The Full statement said: “British Athletics has confirmed the cancellation of the British Athletics Indoor Championships, due to be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena 20-21 February.
“The decision was taken in light of the ongoing pandemic to ensure the safety of all those due to participate; athletes, coaches, technical officials, volunteers, event and venue staff as well as protecting the Glasgow community. At the present time, the process of testing all those attending the Championships from across the UK, seen as an essential measure, would not sufficiently mitigate the risks.
“British Athletics recognises our wider social responsibility to reduce COVID-19 transmission and to not over-burden the National Health Service. Whilst elite sport has been granted the privilege of an exemption to enable training and competition to continue, the logistics of safely staging a national championships comprising approximately 500+ attendees based across the UK and overseas need to be balanced with the risks to those involved, the local community, and the current medical climate.
“With the European Indoor Championships currently scheduled to take place in Torun, Poland 5-7 March British Athletics acknowledges that the cohort of athletes vying for GB & NI team selection will need competition to enable qualification.
“Therefore, alternative provision that enables smaller, COVID-19-compliant event qualification opportunities is being explored and will be confirmed to eligible athletes by British Athletics in due course”.
While the decision is a great disappointment, the decision is undoubtedly the correct one. By the beginning of next week, Covid deaths in the UK will have passed 100,000. Hospital staff repeatedly say that they have never experienced pressures at the level they now encounter every day.
It is one thing to run the outdoor championships in a large stadium as happened last September. Running an event with 500+ people involved in an indoor venue would be significantly more difficult to do safely. The above statement refers to athletes based outside the UK. Current regulations require everyone coming into UK to have had a negative test before travelling and then to self-isolate for 10 days. (It is not clear if elite athletes would be exempt from that requirement). The tone of the statement, referring to the need duty of the sport’s governing body to act responsibility in the national interest at a time of crisis, is the correct one.
There are no financial implications as the cost of staging the event without ticket sales, would have been covered by a grant from UK Sport
There is a knock-on effect as the English Athletics statement showed: “Following today’s decision by British Athletics to cancel the British Indoor Championships due to be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena, on the 20 & 21 Feb, England Athletics has cancelled the series of events organised to help specific athletes prepare for these Championships”.
Athlete reaction included Holly Bradshaw tweeting a sad face and Abi tweeting a picture of herself pumping iron with the comment: “This now feels supremely easy in comparison to the motivation I need to leave my house & train today after having like most of my indoor meets cancelled & Tokyo hanging in the balance”.
The ever-thoughtful Tom Bosworth commented: “We will race again. There will be opportunities down the line. This year has always been about preparing for an ever moving target. It makes none of it easy, the plan, preparation, sacrifice, let alone the staging of the events. But as athletes we will always be ready”.
Assuming the European Indoors go ahead the process for selecting a GB team remains uncertain.
A disappointing day but the right decision.