CANMORE – The Canmore cross-country world cup races are cancelled next week due to concerns over the novel coronavirus.
On Thursday (March 12), organizers called off the 2020 COOP FIS Cross-Country World Cup and all events at the Canmore Nordic Centre from March 19-22 for safety reasons.
"This is a sad day," said Norbert Meier, event chair of the Alberta World Cup Society, in a press release.
"However, the safety of our community is paramount in the face of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. This fast-moving and international phenomenon has introduced an unprecedented level of risk to our event."
With sports leagues suspending play and cancelling events on a mass scale, such as the NHL and NBA, plus President Donald Trump banning European travel to the U.S. for 30 days, the snowball effect of events made it a “no brainer” to call off the Canmore world cup, said Meier, adding the decision was made Wednesday (March 11) at 11 p.m.
“In a span of three hours [on Wednesday], we took a 180 degrees because of what we saw where this phenomenon has taken elsewhere in the world,” Meier said to the Outlook.
“We've never seen this, it's unprecedented."
The season finale was scheduled to feature five races – women's and men's mass start, women's and men's pursuit, and a 4X5-km mixed relay – followed by the Crystal Globes presentation to end the 2019-20 season.
Five teams representing Norway, Italy, Sweden, Thailand, and Korea had already cancelled travelling to Canmore for the world cup. Meier said the other teams said they would make a decision Saturday about whether they would participate in the event.
Meier added the Alberta World Cup Society, an organizing volunteer group, is saddened by the series of events and said the outbreak "is definitely a factor" in hosting major international events in the future.
"Frankly, it's always been a factor," Meier said.
"You can say none of that changes, what changes is the public health response. In the meantime, we're definitely going forward with our goal to bring world class cross-country skiing events to Canmore.
"What makes us do this, is we are inspired by the athletes that represent Canada, and we want to provide our national team an opportunity to perform at home."
The Canmore announcement comes on the heels of the cancellation of the world cup ski races in Minneapolis, U.S., which was the event before Canmore's.
At this time, the Quebec City world cup races on Saturday (March 14) are a go; however, organziers will keep the public updated.
Other sports organizations in North America are also battling the COVID-19 coronavirus global outbreak.
Alpine Canada stated the Alpine NorAm finals and Canadian Alpine National Championships in Panorama, B.C. have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19, plus the MLB, MLS, and NLL have suspended play effective immediately.
The Outlook will update as more information becomes available.