Following a significant surge in COVID-19 cases across much of Canada, and revised health directives, Swimming Canada has decided to cancel the Speedo Can Am Para Swimming Open scheduled for Dec. 11-13 in Vancouver.
The event was to be held at the University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre in conjunction with U.S. Para Swimming.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but in light of all the information we have received, and the increased numbers across the country, we decided it is in the best interests of our swimmers, coaches, volunteers and officials,” said Senior Manager, Sport Development Jocelyn Jay. “I would like to thank the local organizing committee, Swim BC, UBC staff, and the volunteers and officials for working with us over the last several months to prepare for the competition.”
With the attendance of international swimmers unlikely due to the continuing global pandemic, Swimming Canada considered holding a domestic event and associated Tokyo Re-Launch Camp for select Paralympic program swimmers, but ultimately decided the potential health and safety risks were too great.
“This was not an easy decision for any of us,” said Associate High Performance Director and National Para Swimming Coach Wayne Lomas. “The numbers are rising in some provinces, and our medical experts advised that we would not be able to conduct the camp or the meet safely.”
Lomas advised Paralympic program swimmers of the decision in a videoconference earlier today.
“We walked them through the situation to help them understand the magnitude of the challenge and our commitment to their safety and the community’s safety,” Lomas said. “Although it is still early October and many people were looking forward to the situation improving by December, making the call early reduced the level of uncertainty and anxiety for all those involved.”
Even at reduced numbers, a camp would have brought more than 70 swimmers, coaches and staff from various parts of Canada together.
“The National Return to High Performance Sport Taskforce Risk Mitigation Tool was an essential part of guiding our decision,” Lomas said. “This is an excellent resource that helps sports, sport participants and the community play, practise and stay safe.”
The Can Am Open is the final event on Swimming Canada’s 2020 calendar to be postponed or cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The next event on the calendar is a virtual format of the Speedo Eastern and Western Championships, scheduled around provincial championships in March.
Lomas said the Paralympic Program will look for opportunities in 2021.
“As we continue our push toward Tokyo, we must honour our commitment to the safety, health and wellbeing of our people and the Canadian community,” he said. “While this was on one hand a difficult decision, it was also an easy one in that this is the safest option from a health perspective.”
Swimming Canada will continue to re-evaluate its plans through 2021 and beyond as further decisions are announced by national, provincial and municipal government health authorities.
“We encourage everyone in the Canadian swimming community to stay vigilant, and keep following health and safety protocols,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “By all doing our part, we can ensure swimming continues to be a safe sport.”