“FISA aims to organise a fair World Rowing Indoor Championships which will be open and accessible to competitors from around the world”, says FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland.

While further details are to be determined, FISA’s intention is to organise a WRICH with multiple rounds of competition. The first round would be open to any competitor with access to a Concept2 machine ('static Concept2 Model C, D or E with a PM3, PM4 or PM5). The final round of the Championships is intended to be a virtual live race. “This funnelled approach to a final round of racing will allow FISA to create a dynamic sport presentation with a strong athlete-focused narrative,” say Rolland.

This platform will also allow World Rowing to promote indoor rowing beyond elite-level competition. Certain details, including those around rules, race categories, qualification processes and timelines, are still under examination and will be announced as they become finalised.

The word “virtual” is used here to indicate that competitors do not need to share the same physical space to compete, as their performances can be compared online.

The word “live” indicates that this virtual comparison of performances will happen in real time. The combination of these two elements opens the door for World Rowing to expand the reach of this event to indoor rowers from throughout the world. It allows for the simulation of true in-person competition, all while embracing the new opportunities of virtual live racing.

This decision is also in response to the uncertainty of event cancellations in the next 12 months, the need to minimise financial risk for all stakeholders, the inability to complete adequate site visits and event preparations. There remains the possibility that “social distancing”, maximum gathering limits and difficulties with international travel might still be the case. This proactive approach will provide much needed certainty in the international race calendar.