The World Curling Federation has taken the extremely difficult decision not to reschedule its World Women’s, LGT World Men’s, World Mixed Doubles and World Senior Curling Championships 2020, which were cancelled in March due to the global spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
This decision has consequences for world championship qualification in the 2020-2021 season, both for competing Member Associations and the various qualification events to be played in the new season. Also, there are consequences for the Olympic Qualification Points process for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 — a process approved by the International Olympic Committee.
World Curling Federation President, Kate Caithness, said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make in the history of our sport — to completely cancel four world championships in a single season — particularly when Olympic qualification is at stake.
“I am extremely grateful to all those who have helped us come to this unprecedented decision and kindly ask for the entire curling community’s understanding, as I recognise the implications of such a decision are disheartening. However, when the Board, our staff and I considered the costs of rescheduling and finding space in the curling calendar, when we still have no idea as to the full extent of the coronavirus, we really were left with no other option.
“I fervently hope that we will see an end to the spread of this dreadful virus in the very near future and life can return to some normality. Please stay safe and well, and let’s look forward to us getting back to curling soon and delivering a complete 2020-2021 season.”
World Curling Championships 2021 qualification
First of all, for the women’s and men’s Member Associations, qualification for the 2021 world championships will be as follows.
For the women, Switzerland (1) will qualify as the host, with the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2021 taking place in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Then, two (2) Pacific-Asia Zone Member Associations will qualify from the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2020 and another seven (7) European Member Associations will progress from the Le Gruyère AOP European Curling Championships 2020.
The women’s Americas Challenge, in 2021, will qualify two (2) Member Associations for the World Women’s and will include both Canada and the United States. Finally, given one of the Federation’s three regional zones will not lose a guaranteed place in 2020 – per the ‘Qualification – World Championships Men & Women’ portion of The Rules of Curling – just one (1) Member Association will qualify for the world championship via the World Qualification Event in 2021.
For the men, it varies slightly, Canada (1) will qualify as the host. The host city of the World Men’s Curling Championship 2021 has yet to be announced but is guaranteed to be in Canada as part of the long term hosting arrangement between the World Curling Federation and Curling Canada.
A further two men’s (2) Member Associations will qualify from Pacific-Asia and eight (8) from Europe. One (1) will qualify via the Americas Challenge and one (1) will qualify from the World Qualification Event in 2021.
For the Mixed Doubles the intention is that the 20 Member Associations qualified in 2020 retain their places for 2021. However, due to these unique circumstances, the 2021 world championship will be expanded to 24 Member Associations, with the four that qualify from the World Mixed Doubles Qualification Event in 2021 also taking part. These changes will also mean that eight Member Associations will be relegated from the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2021 to the following season’s qualification event to return the number competing at the 2022 world championship to 20 teams.
Olympic Qualification Points procedure
Furthermore, with the World Curling Championships not taking place in 2020, no Olympic Qualification Points will be awarded.
The World Curling Federation will propose to the International Olympic Committee, for their approval, that the top six (6) Member Associations in the World Curling Championships 2021 and the top seven (7) Member Associations in the World Mixed Doubles will qualify for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. If China were to finish in the top six in the women’s and men’s events only five would qualify from the World Curling Championships 2021 to the Olympic Winter Games. In the mixed doubles, if China finished in the top seven the eighth-placed Member Association would qualify.
Thereafter, the remaining Member Associations who do not qualify for the Games from the World Curling Championships in 2021, will join any Member Association who had a place in the 2020 world championships but had not qualified to compete in the Games, in an expanded Olympic Qualification Event, in December 2021. A further three (3) women’s and men’s Member Associations — or four (4) if China had finished in the top six at the World Curling Championships — and two (2) Mixed Doubles Member Associations will qualify for the Games via the Olympic Qualification Event.
China (1) will automatically qualify in each discipline as the host of the Olympic Winter Games. A total of ten (10) Member Associations will compete in each discipline at the Games.
The current world rankings in women’s, men’s and mixed doubles will remain unchanged for another year.
There are no additional consequences to the World Senior Curling Championships 2020 not taking place, given it does not lead to another event and it is an open entry competition.
Finally, at this time, the World Curling Federation hopes to find space to rearrange the European Curling Championships C-Division 2020, if possible.