With the world well in the grips of the SARS-COVID pandemic WFDF has made an announcement that they remain fully committed to holding WUGC in July, WJUC in July, and WMUC in September. This commitment is not without reservations that take into consideration government regulations as well as health and safety of participants and spectators. WFDF also acknowledges the uncertainty of how the pandemic will develop.
This is a reasonable statement and plainly states that we are facing a far more uncertain future and that while event planning continues there could be cancellations.
With that in mind let’s consider the two possible options: a Worlds event is held as expected or a Worlds event is cancelled.
In the latter case it is possible that the events could be deferred by a year. This will be dependent upon there being sufficient funding to move the events. It will result in additional funds being necessary, the signing of new sponsorship contracts, etc. The decision to move the tournament will require buy in from multiple parties including the tournament organizers as well as WFDF member countries.
The impact of an outright cancellation to WUGC would be significant as the results will affect who qualifies for the 2021 World Games. Rescheduling WUGC to 2021 would no longer be connected to the World Games and would have many of the best players miss out on WUGC. This scenario is possible but faces significant logistic hurdles.
So what if WUGC is not cancelled? Given the current uncertainty it is fair to ask: what sort of WUGC would it be? The reason we ask this is because the actions, reactions, and expectations of people with regards to the pandemic are not uniform. The result is that outcomes will not be uniform and some nations will still be in the throes of the pandemic close to the event dates.
For players from nations that regularly find it difficult to obtain a visa to attend tournaments may be entirely denied due to continuing health care emergencies. For those from countries that typically receive an automatic visa on arrival that guarantee is, at the present, not available and has no certainty as to when it would become available.
So, it’s fair to ask what sort of event would it be? What if half of the teams cannot enter the the Netherlands, Sweden, or Australia? Is it still a Worlds event? What if half of the teams are not allowed to travel by the time the events come around due to restrictions placed by their countries? What if half of the teams choose not to attend due to safety concerns?
These questions are not there to cause paranoia but to help and understand that there is unlikely to be any sort of normality this year. That if any of the events were to occur that many teams will be unable to attend. At which point: is it really worlds anymore? These are questions being asked with regards to the Olympics and athletes from some countries, such as Canada and Australia , are refusing to attend. Large sporting events, like EURO 2020, have also been delayed by a year.
As it stands odds are at that WUGC and WJUC will be canceled. The timelines are far too tight to ensure that teams from around the world will be able to attend. This is a year where there will be great scrutiny for all those that are traveling for any reason.
For WMUC it may seem a little bit brighter but we have yet to see the Australian government respond with the same degree of urgency as others. This is likely to result in travel advisories not to travel to Australia with these advisories lasting well into the latter part of the year.
If I were to call it now I would say that we are unlikely to see any Worlds events this year. Certainly a depressing thought but realistic and one to start coming to terms with. There is a possibility of running the events in 2021 but it’s far too early to make a call on that.
Does this mean that Ultimate is “canceled”? Not for those that were attending the events nor for the vast majority of those that were not going to the tournaments nor attending as spectators. There will be many opportunities to play locally in the coming months. As we come to better understand the virus we will find greater certainty in ensuring our health and of that of the most vulnerable in our communities. As each community achieves success normality will return and with it our opportunity to play our wonderful sport.