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Coronavirus concerns may postpone or cancel world figure skating championships

Minnesota Wild v Montreal Canadiens
General view of the Bell Centre before a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild on Oct. 17.
(Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images)

Officials in the Canadian province of Quebec are expected to decide in the next few days if they will allow the world figure skating championships to be held as scheduled in Montreal from March 16-22 or if health concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak merit postponing or canceling the competition. The event, which brings together the world’s top men, women, pairs and ice dance duos, is scheduled to take place at the Bell Centre.

The health minister of Quebec, Danielle McCann, told the Canadian Press on Monday the Public Health Agency of Canada will provide input to the government in evaluating if the competition should to go forward. The women’s world hockey championships, which were scheduled to start later this month in Nova Scotia, Canada, were canceled last week by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

McCann said provincial public health and public security officials are involved in the analysis of the March 16-22 figure skating event, with input from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Cancellation has not been ruled out.

“We have to do a case-by-case analysis of the events, but we are aware that we need to make a decision rapidly,” she said.

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In a statement Monday, Skate Canada said the event is scheduled to take place as planned. “As the situation is changing quickly, we continue to monitor new developments of the evolution of COVID-19 in co-operation with the ISU and will follow the recommendations provided by the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the statement said.

The world figure skating championships have been canceled before. World War I led to cancellations of the competition from 1915 through 1921, and World War II caused cancellation from 1940 through 1946. The 1961 championships were canceled following the fatal crash in Belgium of the plane that was carrying the U.S. team to Prague, Czechoslovakia.


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