Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC) has made the very difficult decision to not send a team to, nor to endorse any Canadian athlete’s participation in, the 2021 IFSC Youth World Championships (YWC), which is scheduled to take place between August 21-31, in Voronezh, Russia. Due to the increased complexity of obtaining a travel visa to enter Russia, and the required 6 to 8 weeks application process, CEC had to make this decision early, based solely on the current situation, not on the possibility of an improvement in the situation over the next two months.
“After a thorough risk/benefit analysis, in light of the current state of this third wave of the pandemic, and clear increased health risks to youth athletes by potential infection with the latest COVID-19 variants, we have decided that we cannot in good conscience send our athletes to the Youth World Championships in Russia this August 2021”, comments Dr. Yasser El-Sheikh BSc (Kin), MD, FRCSC, CEC’s Chief Medical Officer.
In making this decision, the CEC High Performance team applied Own the Podium’s “Event Return to Competition Risk Assessment and Mitigation Checklist Tool”, and considered multiple factors, including, but not limited to:
- The Canadian Government is not currently recommending international travel, and has imposed strict International Travel Restrictions and Guidelines. Furthermore, Own The Podium and Sport Canada recommend that only athletes qualified for Tokyo 2021, or in the process of qualifying for Tokyo 2021 or Beijing 2022, should attend international competitions.
- The OTP Sport Medical Advisory Committee Return to Competition Risk Assessment and Mitigation Tool returned moderate to high risk results surrounding the COVID situation in Russia.
- Given the various states of lockdown in Canada, it is not possible for CEC to host a fair and equitable selection process for youth athletes at this time. The last CEC Youth Competitions were held in February 2020 (boulder) and May 2019 (lead/speed). These results are 1 to 2 years old, and athletes have aged out of their respective categories.
- Competing in the times of COVID increases the physical risk and mental burden placed on athletes and coaches, and can negatively affect an individual’s wellbeing. The potential benefits Canadian youth athletes may gain from competing at the YWC do not outweigh the increased risks associated with attendance and participation at the event.
- We do not feel comfortable asking volunteer coaching staff to take on the risk and expense (lost wages during the mandatory 14 day isolation upon return to Canada) that would accompany participation in the YWC this year.
“As an emergency room nurse I am watching this pandemic evolve from the frontlines. The health of our athletes and their families is not worth the risk”, says Stacey Weldon, Member of the CEC Athlete Commission, and ER Nurse Practitioner
“OTP is supportive of Climbing Escalade Canada in using the Return to Competition Risk Assessment Tool (R-CAT III) as part of their due diligence processes to make the difficult decision to not attend identified international events that pose high risk.” says Jessica Levitt, Own the Podium High Performance Advisor.
CEC acknowledges that this is not the decision many athletes were hoping for, and it is adding to a year of disappointments. We strongly believe this is the right decision to make for the safety of our athletes and coaches. We encourage athletes and parents to reach out to CEC and seek support in these very difficult times. In addition to planning for our 2021 -2022 season, which we announced on April 15, CEC is also looking at other events and activities we can offer for our athletes and the community.
For any questions, comments, or need for support, please don’t hesitate to contact CEC
High Performance Director
Board of Directors’ Chair
President of the CEC Athlete Commission