The 2021 women's world curling championship has been cancelled.
The event, scheduled to take place from March 19-28 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, was not supported by the Swiss Local Health Authority.
The World Curling Federation made the news official by sending out a press release early Monday. In the release, the international governing sport body said it was informed that due to the current pandemic situation and concerns around the spread of new variants, permission to host an international sporting event would not be granted.
"Our staff and the local organizers had worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of all our athletes, officials, staff and volunteers working at the event," World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness said.
"We are extremely disappointed that the athletes who have worked so hard to compete for a World Championship title will not have that opportunity for the second year in a row due to the cancellation of the event."
This is now the second time the women's world championship has been cancelled. Last March, in the early days of the pandemic the championship, scheduled for Prince George, B.C., was cancelled. Curlers from around the world had already flown to the British Columbia — the event was shut down just days before the competition was meant to begin.
This cancellation has even more significance now with the Beijing Olympics looming.
With less than a year to go until the 2022 Winter Games, there is now a full scramble to either try and reschedule the women's world championship for another venue or the World Curling Federation says it may add another event in the future to try and qualify nations.
"We will be evaluating all the options available to us in order to complete the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games women's team qualification process and do everything we can to ensure that it's carried out on the ice in competition," Caithness said.
Canada needs top-6 finish to qualify for Beijing
As of now, Canada needs a top-6 performance at the women's world curling championship to qualify for Beijing 2022.
The WCF says it is now talking to all stakeholders about next steps to complete the Olympic qualification process. It says discussions will take place with local organizers in Schaffhausen to hold future international competitions in the future.
Shortly after the cancellation of the women's world championship Curling Canada sent out its own press release saying none of the events planned for the Calgary curling bubble would be affected by today's decision.
"We've been in constant communication with Alberta Health as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada, and our testing and enforcement protocols are backed by medical professionals, so we have every confidence that fans will be able see our sport's best players perform in Calgary in an environment that is safe for athletes, officials and, especially, the host city of Calgary," said Katherine Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Curling Canada.
"We respect the decision of the World Curling Federation, and we will await further direction with respect to the cancellation of the event in Switzerland."
The men's world championship, scheduled for early April in the Calgary curling bubble, is still set to go ahead as planned.
At this point the men's world championship, scheduled for early April in the Calgary curling bubble, is still set to go ahead as planned.
There are also plans to host the mixed doubles world championship later in April in a location yet to be named.
The women's world championship cancellation comes less than two weeks before the start of the Scotties in the Calgary bubble.
Eighteen of the top women's teams from across Canada will be living in a bubble-type setting at Canada Olympic Park to compete in the national championship, beginning Feb. 19.
The Brier is set to take place in the Calgary bubble beginning March 5-14. That leads into the mixed doubles national championship in mid-March, followed by the men's world championship beginning April 2.