The ISU and Others Cancel Events; Should the Olympics Too?


Should the Olympics cancel its events in the wake of the coronavirus? (Courtesy of Flickr)

Maggie Rothfus, Copy Chief Emerita

This week’s figure skating column was originally going to cover the International Skating Union’s World Junior Figure Skating Championships held last week, but, unfortunately, the novel coronavirus had other plans for my writing. This week, as Fordham University canceled its own classes and eventually sporting events for the rest of spring semester, so, too, did the ISU cancel next week’s World Figure Skating Championships.

Originally to take place in Montreal from March 16 to 22, Worlds still has a possibility of postponement, rather than cancellation, according to the ISU’s statement made on Wednesday, March 11. While there is no guarantee, the ISU will take time in the next few weeks to determine whether Worlds can still take place later in the year — October being the earliest month possible.

“The ISU regrets that the most important Figure Skating Event of the season cannot be held as planned but the ISU also understands that the safety and wellbeing of all participants and the community take precedence and is sure that ISU Members, Skaters and fans will understand this decision,” the statement read.

This comes as a disappointment to the skaters involved as well as the fans. First-time Worlds participants such as Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova and South Korea’s Young You expressed their dismay over Instagram. Meanwhile, Jason Brown, Nathan Chen and Mariah Bell of the U.S. agreed that while they are disappointed, they know this is the right choice for public health and safety.

In the same article that featured those American skaters’ sentiments, NBC Sports also discussed the logistics of a fall Worlds, which Chen described as “not … ideal.” Due to the Grand Prix beginning Oct. 23, there is little time for a Worlds tournament, and increased training for it may be harmful for skaters’ 2020-21 seasons. While upsetting, Worlds may have to stay as simply canceled — just another loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the ISU’s and Fordham’s cancellations, there have been suspensions to the schedules of the NHL, MLB and NBA. The one big sports question remains: What about the 2020 Olympics?

Well, that decision must be made by May, relayed Dick Pound, member of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), to The Associated Press in February. While the NHK reported Saturday of a record 1,423 cases of COVID-19 in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been adamant that the Olympics will go on as planned. However, according to CNN on March 5, the current numbers of cases in Japan may be much higher due to low testing rates. If this is the case, this could be detrimental for the Olympics’ schedule — or, if the show goes on, for the health of athletes and tourists.

The IOC and the World Health Organization may have the final call on this, rather than Japan. While an Olympics-free summer is disheartening, it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s something people will move on from and perhaps feel relieved about given the severity of the virus. However, we won’t know until May, and a lot can change between now and then — which is why it is important for governments to continue the prevention of and research into COVID-19.