FISA ready to evaluate all impacts of the postponement of the Games
The World Rowing Federation, FISA Executive Committee met by tele-conference on Wednesday 25 March 2020. This meeting was part of the current ongoing discussions predicated by the world COVID-19 virus situation.
The World Rowing Federation, FISA supports the IOC and Japanese government’s decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to no later than Summer 2021 to safeguard the health of the athletes and all involved in the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the terrible context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Committee is discussing on a daily basis and will continue as long as the situation requires.
Postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games
This was announced by the government of Japan and Tokyo, and the International Olympic Committee, IOC, on Tuesday. The impact of this decision is massive and FISA is awaiting further guidance from the IOC in order to address a number of issues. These include further Olympic and Paralympic qualification and the dates of the two Games in 2021.
The IOC President, Thomas Bach, has scheduled a video conference call with the International Sports Federations (including FISA) on Thursday, 26 March 2020 at 17:00 hrs CET to provide more information.
The status of the 2020 season
This year has been dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 virus. All World Rowing events scheduled for April and May have been cancelled. Now, with no Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, thoughts turn to June, July, August and September.
Given the containment measures taken against the spread of COVID-19, the current thinking is that the deadline for critical decisions on international events is two months to go.
With the current trend it is not clear what the continuing impact will be on staging international events. The Executive Committee has discussed a reconsideration of the two-month decision deadline and will complete that discussion on Friday evening. The feeling is to balance the potential for unnecessary costs with the wish for clarity by those involved, against acting too quickly. If we act too quickly this may potentially remove competition opportunities for rowers in the case that the COVID-19 crisis is brought under control.
FISA is in nearly daily contact with all the 2020 event Organising Committees (OC) to discuss the latest developments and review critical deadlines, particularly related to finances for teams, the OC and FISA. There is also the question of whether events for seniors (those who would not be going to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics) could be staged in August or September. This is being studied as well.
The status of the 2021 season
The 2021 season will have to be reconstructed once the dates of the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been announced by the IOC and International Paralympic Committee, IPC.
The FISA Executive Committee has started to list all the related issues that will have to be addressed once the new dates are announced. Critical in this process is how much time will be available before the Games for the rowing season.
For Olympic and Paralympic qualification, a solution for the remaining qualification quota places will have to be found and racing opportunities created.
It is also clear that seven weeks is required for shipping of equipment from Europe to Japan and that any final qualification opportunities will have to take place seven weeks before the opening of the Olympic Village.
Other questions that are all connected to the dates are the 2021 World Rowing Championships scheduled for the end of September in Shanghai, China. There is also the question of funding of the FISA/Olympic Solidarity pre-event training camps at the continental qualification regattas. Then for 2021 there are development activities related to qualification for the 2022 Dakar Youth Olympic Games.
The 2020 Extraordinary and Ordinary Congress
This is also a question mark as clarity is needed from the IOC on their new decision-making process for the 2024 Olympic event programme. It was the IOC’s plan to include analysis of the individual sports’ impact on the success (in terms of popularity) of the 2020 Olympic Games. It might be the case that this Congress would have to be moved to post-Olympic Games 2021. Awaiting further word.
The turmoil in the financial markets has caused a temporary devaluation of FISA’s financial reserves. A further uncertainty is the timing of the financial contribution of the Olympic Games’ television rights to the International Federations like FISA. This would normally take place in November/December of the Olympic year. If this is delayed, FISA would have to operate on reserves in 2021. The impact is being closely monitored so that FISA can continue to provide service to the member federations and maintain normal operations.
The next FISA Executive Committee tele-conference meeting is Friday, 27 March 2020.
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