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COVID-19 concerns cancels Vernon’s national ski championships

Safety and health of athletes No. 1 priority for Nordiq Canada and Sovereign Lake Nordic Ski Club
Vernon’s Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre along with Nordiq Canada cancelled the 94th annual Canadian Ski Championships, March 25-April 2, amid growing COVID-19 concerns. (Photo submitted)

The 2020 Canadian Ski Championships have been cancelled due to growing COVID-19 concerns.

The eight-day event slated for March 25 at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre was expected to draw more than 650 of North America’s best cross-country skiers, including Olympians and World Cup athletes, but won’t be going ahead, Nordiq Canada said.

It was expected the event would have an estimated $2.3-million impact on the region.

“The safety and health of athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff is, and will always be, our top priority,” Nordiq Canada said in a statement.

“COVID-19 is a fast-evolving situation globally and we believe this decision is in the best interest of our broader sport community with regards to handling the situation we are all facing.”

The decision was made in consultation with the local organizing committee at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Ski Club.

The local organizers echoed Nordiq Canada’s message, stating public health protection is the top priority.

“The number of incidents of community transmission is growing in B.C., as is the total number of people infected,” the organizing committee said in a statement.

“Although no cases have yet been confirmed in Vernon, there is significant back-and-forth travel between the Okanagan and the Vancouver and Seattle areas, both with relatively large numbers of confirmed cases.”

Many of the event’s volunteers are over the age of 60 and considered an at-risk population, according to the federal government. The local organizing committee took this into consideration ahead of making its decision.

“These volunteers would return to their families each evening and could unknowingly increase the likelihood of the transmission of COVID-19 within the community,” the committee’s statement said.

Nordiq Canada extended its acknowledgement to the local committee who invested significant time in preparation work. The national agency said it looks forward to working with the local club to stage future events.

The City of Vernon invested a $10,000 grant in December 2019 to assist with tent rentals and trailers for the event. Other municipalities also invested a significant amount of money to support the national event.

Nordiq Canada announced it was ready to host the best in Vernon only three days before cancelling the event amid growing COVID-19 concerns.

READ MORE: City slides in funds for some Vernon groups, others shut out

READ MORE: Skiers to descend on Sovereign Lake near Vernon for competition


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