2020 Junior and MTB World Championships cancelled, European Youth Orienteering Championships to include juniors

The IOF Council, at its digital meeting held today July 31st, decided that the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC) 2020 scheduled to be held in Turkey in October and the World Mountainbike Orienteering Championships (WMTBOC) 2020 scheduled to be held in Portugal in October are cancelled due to the continuing effects of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The Council also decided that the scheduled organisation of the European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC) in Hungary, 24-26 October 2020, could proceed. As part of the decision about EYOC, Council approved the organisers proposal to include competition classes for junior athletes (Men up to 20 years old and Women up to 20) and to declare these the European Junior Orienteering Championships (EJOC) 2020.

– The decisions made by Council today are consistent with the information the IOF has gathered regarding the difficulty in organising global orienteering events, where different regions of the world are at different levels of restrictions and activity due to the pandemic, states IOF Secretary General/CEO Tom Hollowell. – At the same time, we do see some more positive developments in Europe where we are able to conduct events at regional level, first the European Mountainbike Orienteering Championships and now the European Youth Orienteering Championships. I really need to show appreciation to our organisers and member federations for their continuing understanding and assistance us as we try to find the best solutions for offering athletes opportunities to compete at championship level events in a safe environment.

The Council decisions about the events were largely based upon consultation carried out with members regarding their ability and willingness to participate, as well as the recommendations of the respective organisers and IOF Senior Event Advisers. For the World Championships events it was obvious in the consultation, answered by 46 IOF members, that broad participation would not be possible and that the value of the global championships would be significantly reduced for athletes, organisers, venues and partners. For EYOC, European region members were much more positive about their possibilities for participating, with a clear majority stating that they most likely or certainly would send a team.

The decision about the Junior World Orienteering Championships means that the respective appointed organisers for the years 2020 – 2022 have agreed to move their event one year, i.e. JWOC 2021 will be held in Turkey, JWOC 2022 will be held in Portugal and JWOC 2023 will be held in Romania. The IOF intends to open an opportunity for athletes born in 2000, who had their final year of junior eligibility in 2020, to compete for medals at JWOC 2021. However, the IOF would like to consult with member federations regarding the best method for including their participation prior to making a final decision. The consultation will be carried out immediately and a decision made at the Council meeting on September 25th.

The cancellation of the World MTB Orienteering Championships event in Portugal also means that the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships and the European Youth MTB Orienteering Championships which were part of the event are also cancelled for 2020. The IOF is working with the organisers to see how the preparations and venue cooperation can be re-allocated to another IOF major MTB event in the near future.

Due to the special situation the European Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships in Hungary would be a one-time event for 2020, but Council further decided it would carry out consultation with member federations to determine if a European Junior Championships should be established as a permanent regional championships as is the case in other IOF regions. The organisers in Hungary presented, as part of their recommendation to Council, a number of preventive actions which will be taken to secure the safety of the participants in light of the Covid-19 situation. These will be communicated to all teams as part of the coming event bulletins.