The new COVID-19 variant has claimed another international sporting event.
Next week’s ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Osaka, Japan has been postponed because of travel restrictions amid the new Omicron variant.
The International Skating Union said in a statement that considering the complicated epidemic situation involving travel restrictions, quarantine requirements, safety concerns and logistical challenges, the organization of the event was extremely challenging.
“The Japan Skating Federation and the local organizing committee tried their best to find solutions but ultimately concluded that, regrettably, they are unable to organize and hold the event as planned,” the statement said.
The Grand Prix Final gives skaters a chance to make their case for an Olympic spot before national championships in late December and January.
“I am disappointed about the cancellation of the Grand Prix final in Japan. However, I know that everyone’s health is most important,” three-time world champion and Olympic favourite Nathan Chen wrote in a text message to The Associated Press.
Canadian ice dancers Natalie D’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell, and Wesley Chiu (men’s singles) had qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final.
Skate Canada said it “understands and is grateful that the health and safety of all participants remains a top priority.”
“Although this news is disappointing, it in no way detracts from the outstanding performances of the Canadian athletes who qualified for the Grand Prix Final,” Skate Canada’s statement said. “Skate Canada congratulates and recognizes these athletes and their coaches for the outstanding performances in the 2021-2022 Junior and Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.”
The ISU said it will evaluate the possibility of holding the Grand Prix Final at the end of the season.
The event was the only global event matching the best skaters across all four disciplines before the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
Earlier this week, the Winter Universiade in Lucerne, Switzerland was cancelled. Also, the junior women’s field hockey World Cup in South Africa was cancelled. Canada’s junior team is still in Potchefstroom, awaiting flights home.
The Grand Prix Final scheduled for Beijing last season was also cancelled due to COVID-19.
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