The International Weightlifting Federation has announced that two significant events in the sport’s calendar have been postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak: The European Weightlifting Championships and the African Weightlifting Championships.
The bolding in the text below is ours. The announcement for Europeans read:
The European Weightlifting Federation through the full support of the Executive Board, due to the spread of the Coronavirus on the continent, has decided to postpone the European Senior Championships scheduled in Moscow, Russia 13-21 April, together with the Electoral Congress.
The Electoral Congress and the competition will be held in Moscow in June as follows:
- 10 June: EWF Committee Meetings & EWF Executive Board Meeting
- 11 June: EWF Electoral Congress
- 12 June: New EWF Executive Board Meeting
- 13-21 June: 2020 Competitions days
The announcement for the African Championships was shorter:
Because of the global spread of the Coronavirus and travel restrictions implemented by many countries around the World, the Local Organizing Committee decided to postpone the African Championships, that was due to be held 13-20 April in Vacoas, Mauritius.
The event will be held at the same location on 15-23 June 2020.
The IWF is clearly banking on the outbreak being significantly more contained in June. These two postponements came just four days after the Asian Weightlifting Championships were postponed (from April 16-25 to a currently unknown date), which was announced a week after the IWF Junior World Weightlifting Championships (scheduled for March 14-21) were outright canceled.
All of these are/were Olympic qualifying events, which will make it difficult for some athletes to make their way to the Tokyo Games, and weightlifting isn’t the only sport taking a hit. A roundup from The Associated Press explained that other canceled or postponed events include two rowing World Cups, all judo qualifiers until at least April 30, and three badminton tournaments from this month.
The article noted that moving qualifiers isn’t ideal for a lot of athletes. A competitor in the 50-kilometer race walk, for instance, said athletes need weeks to recover between races, so “you’ll be putting all your eggs into the qualifying basket and wouldn’t be able to recover in times for the games.” Due to the nature of training cycles, Olympic weightlifting, of course, can also count itself in the category of sports where maintaining specific dates for competition can be critical for successfully qualifying.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach published an open letter last week that noted (emphasis ours),
Of course, we know that the ongoing Olympic qualification is challenging and that it requires a lot of flexibility from you, your National Olympic Committee (NOC) and your International Federation (IF). Some of you had to change your competition schedule, training and travel plans because of venue changes and travel restrictions. I want to personally thank you for all this flexibility and solidarity, which is the true Olympic spirit.
Rest assured that the IOC continues to work hard with the NOCs and the IFs to find solutions for these challenges and to ensure a fair Olympic qualification under these circumstances.
No further details have been given as to how that fair qualification would occur.
The latest coronavirus (COVID-19) situational report from the World Health Organization reads:
- There have been 109,577 confirmed cases worldwide
- There have been 3,809 deaths worldwide
- 3,993 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours
- 225 new deaths have occurred in the last 24 hours
- Cases have been reported in 104 countries (3 new in the last 24 hours)
In China, the numbers were:
- 80,904 confirmed cases (45 in the previous 24 hours)
- 3,123 deaths (23 in the previous 24 hours)
Featured image via @tokyo2020 on Instagram