The IOF regrets to announce that the Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships 2020 (WOC) which were planned to be held in Denmark, initially at the beginning of July and postponed until October, will not be held this year. The impact of the Corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic, regarding restrictions on movement and travel, is that fair competition conditions cannot be guaranteed. In addition, these restrictions have led to a situation where stakeholder financial support for the event is no longer guaranteed for 2020.
The IOF has also received notification from the organisers of the European Orienteering Championships 2021 (EOC) to be held in Russia in August 2021, that they are no longer able to organise the event. This is due to an announcement from the government of the region of Mordovia that they are no longer able to provide financing and support for the event due to follow-on economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The IOF has been in close contact with both the WOC and EOC organisers over the past weeks as this information has become a possibility, and then reality. Once the change of the EOC was probable, the IOF has worked on finding alternatives to be able to organise a sprint WOC and sprint EOC in 2021.
The event in Denmark was scheduled to be the first World Orienteering Championships consisting of only sprint formats. An attempt to move WOC2020 to 2021 has been made but the event calendar is tight with a Tour de France stage in one of the WOC host cities, the re-scheduled Olympic Games and Paralympics, and WOC 2021 in the Czech Republic. It has therefore been impossible to find a solution in Denmark which can be supported by the major stakeholders, where necessary volunteer organising resources are available and which fits into the international calendar to allow broad participation from national teams and spectators. The IOF has also investigated three other potential solutions for holding a sprint WOC in 2021 in another location, but each of these alternatives have proven not to be possible for similar reasons, i.e. uncertainties about the lack of stakeholder support, access to organising capacity and appropriate venues, and fit with the overall calendar. The WOC event in Denmark will instead be re-scheduled for 2022. The 2022 WOC which was previously scheduled to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland will be re-scheduled for 2024 pending final approval from all stakeholders.
Regarding the sprint EOC, the organisers of the Orienteering World Cup round 1, 2021 in Switzerland are currently investigating and considering if this event can become the European Orienteering Championships 2021. They will inform the IOF if this is possible by the end of May. In such a case the planned Long Distance competition would be replaced by a Sprint Relay and complemented by the already planned Sprint and Knock-out Sprint competitions to make up the program of the first sprint EOC.
This has been an extremely frustrating time, according to IOF Secretary General/CEO Tom Hollowell: