Updated March 13, 2:41 p.m. EST
PHOTO AND STORY BY ED MORAN
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USRowing announced Friday that Olympic Trials I are postponed and that all national team events have been suspended for 30 days. Shortly after the USRowing announcement, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association voted to cancel the 118th IRA National Championship Regatta and Eastern Sprints in addition to the USRowing collegiate series.
Friday’s decisions all but decimated whatever remained of the spring championship schedule and brings into question what USRowing will do for Olympic selection. Olympic Trials II has been scheduled for April 13-18 in Sarasota and the final Olympic qualification regatta is due to take place in May.
In making their announcement USRowing said, “With the information, we have today, in consultation with the USOPC and new information from local health officials, USRowing has made the decision to postpone next week’s 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Rowing I in Sarasota, Fla., and will not run a National Team event for the next 30 days.
“We understand the difficulties of making this announcement at this time and the disruption it puts on the athletes currently preparing for the event in Sarasota. Over the next several days, USRowing, the USRowing High-Performance Committee and other invested parties will be discussing next steps as it relates to the selection procedures and process. USRowing will include feedback from athletes as we look at the process going forward. FISA will be making its next announcement regarding international events and the Olympic qualification process on March 17. USRowing will use this information in its planning,” USRowing stated.
Minutes after the USRowing action was made public the cancelations of the IRA and Men’s and Women’s Eastern Sprints along with the USRowing Collegiate series was announced.
IRA Commissioner Gary Caldwell said following the association’s announcement that the number of schools that have canceled their winter and spring sports schedules made the decision impossible to avoid.
“The cascade of schools and conferences deciding that it was in the best interest of their student athletes to cancel their participation made it impossible to move forward. There are significantly more important issues that these schools are confronting, and society is confronting in general than whether we are going to run specific sporting events or not,” Caldwell said.
Friday’s actions have followed a week of cancelations that have all but eliminated the entire spring racing season.
Late Thursday, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. The announcement comes just a day after the Ivy League eliminated all spring sports following today’s announcements that the Patriot League, Pac-12 and Philadelphia Scholastic Rowing Association have all made cancelations. The San Diego Crew Classic followed later Thursday afternoon with the announcement that its regatta had too, been canceled. All but the PSRA have suspended their sports schedule for the rest of the spring.
In making its announcement, the PSRA said that they were canceling Manny Flicks 1-4 due to directives from the Philadelphia Mayor but the 5th Flick and City Championship are still on schedule. The PSRA is also considering adding a 6th Flick according to their statement.
On the afternoon of March 12, 2020, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney announced that beginning immediately all events with over 1,000 people are banned in the City of Philadelphia for 30 days due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. This goes through Easter and includes Flicks 2, 3 and 4.
The 2020 NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship was due to held in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, May 29-31.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” according to a statement from the NCAA.
The cancelations have been following rapidly developing actions to curtail exposure to the virus in the sports world that began with the NBA suspending its schedule. The NHL, Major League Soccer both announced that they were suspending play, while Major League Baseball announced a temporary halt to spring training.
News that the Ivy League shut down the spring season followed a similar decision announced Tuesday by the New England Small College Athletic Conference that it has canceled all their conference sports and championship events. The Patriot League also announced its decision to cancel all spring practices and competitions followed by the Pac-12 canceling all of their scheduled spring sports and championships including the Husky Open.
The NESPAC schools include Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College.