Luge world championships won’t be held in Canada this winter

Canada will not host the luge world championships next year, with officials announcing Wednesday that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic left them no choice but to consider another site.

The biggest impediment was the 14-day quarantine that would be required of any foreign athlete entering Canada for the championships, which were to take place from Feb. 5-7 in British Columbia at the Whistler Sliding Center — built for the 2010 Olympics.

Canadian officials could not guarantee that quarantine rule would be lifted by February, and that forced the International Luge Federation to cancel the plans to hold worlds in Whistler.

“Unfortunately, a proper realization of this major event is not possible under the given conditions and regulations,” FIL Executive Director Christoph Schweiger said.

The FIL said its Executive Board will decide on an alternative venue in the coming weeks.

For now, the bobsled and skeleton world championships for this coming season are still on as scheduled in Lake Placid, New York from Feb. 1 through Feb. 14. Also still scheduled: A luge World Cup competition in Lake Placid on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, which would have been the tour stop immediately before the world championships.

The luge, bobsled and skeleton World Cup seasons are all scheduled to start in late November. But there have been indications that changes could come, including the decision by sliding powerhouse Germany earlier this week to cancel its annual bobsled and skeleton push championships and international start competition scheduled for Oct. 10 in Oberhof — because of the pandemic.

The pandemic also forced sliding federations and organizers of the 2022 Beijing Olympics to change plans for how the track that has been built for those games will be certified as race-ready. The track’s homologation — a necessary step in the certifying process — was postponed this past spring because of the outbreak in China, where the virus originated, and has since been rescheduled to include no international athletes in response to ongoing concerns about foreign travel.

“While our focus now is on doing our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19, it is our sincere hope that when our borders open for international travel, Canada will host a World Championships in Whistler,” said Tim Farstad, the executive director of Luge Canada.

This is the second time that plans for the 2021 world championships — which was to be the 50th anniversary championships — have been scrapped. Calgary was originally awarded the host rights in 2017, then the championships were moved to Whistler two years later at Canada’s request following a decision to close Calgary’s track indefinitely.

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