Coronavirus (Covid-19) update from the IOF (revised 15 March)

This news article has been updated non March 15 with new information about the European Youth Orienteering Championships. Please see below.

This week the IOF has collected information from a large number of member federations and IOF event organisers regarding the general recommendations of their authorities and the implications of the Covid-19 virus on orienteering activities. Among this is the potential effect on planned IOF major events. Below is a summary of the current status regarding the IOF events which are the closest upcoming in the IOF calendar.

General Information

A few key points can be summarized from the information received from member federations and organisers:

This is a very turbulent and volatile situation. In fact, the situation has changed in a large number of countries during the week, from nearly no restrictions at the beginning of the week to having significant restrictions announced on Wednesday or Thursday. The main message from the IOF here is that we feel this will continue to change so any information given here needs to be verified and updated. We will continue to try to inform members as best we can.

There is a common pattern appearing that national health agencies are taking strong actions to minimize the spread of the virus. For sports, and orienteering, the common thread is that authorities are forbidding events to be held that are over a certain size for a period of time into the future. However, both the size of allowed events and the period of time is different in each country. For example,

  • in the Czech Republic all events with more than 100 participants/spectators shall be cancelled until further notice. The Czech Orienteering Federation has therefore cancelled all events in March and will take a decision about April as new information and guidelines from the authorities becomes available.
  • in Sweden events with more than 500 participants/spectators shall not be held until further notice.
  • in Cyprus the limit is 75 participants.
  • in Norway and Denmark all sports activities have been shut down, in Denmark for the coming 14 days, for Norway until further notice
  • Of the 20 responses received from member federations 13 had this type of restrictions in place and particularly among European members this is common. Some members also answered that no restrictions were currently in place but were expected.

Another common thread is regarding travel restrictions. Although very few countries have as yet put in place complete restrictions on travel, most countries will require travellers to be in some form of quarantine for a period of time if they come from listed virus-stricken areas. Again, the variation across countries here is quite large so for individual travel cases this must be checked with the respective country’s health authorities.

IOF Event Information

The IOF has also been in contact with organisers of our major events up to the World Orienteering Championships in Denmark in July. This is the current status of those events:

  • First of all, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) announced and informed us yesterday that the World University Ski Orienteering Championships, to be held in Rovaniemi, Finland 23-27 March, have been cancelled. This is in line with the current restrictions in place in Finland, i.e. no events with more than 500 persons until after 31 May, 2020.
  • For the European MTB Orienteering Championships to be held in Portugal 11-16 May, the organisers have informed us that they still plan on holding the event as no restrictions are currently in place. The IOF will be following the developments in Portugal and be in close contact with the organisers.
  • Orienteering World Cup round 1 in Switzerland 20-24 May. Switzerland has currently restriction on any events with more than 1000 persons, until March 15. A new government decision is expected at that time and based upon that, and other information which is being gathered, the World Cup organisers and the IOF will discuss the issue at a planned meeting om March 24. So far no changes in the event are announced but we will come back after March 24 with more information.
  • For the European Trail Orienteering Championships in Finland 21-24 May, the same restrictions are in place in Finland as for the above FISU event, i.e. no events with more than 500 persons until the end of May. As the number of participants and organisers is expected to be below the limit, the organisers currently plan on organising the event. Again, the IOF will continue to monitor the situation.
  • European Youth Orienteering Championships in Hungary 19-22 June (UPDATED). Hungary has introduced restrictions and the general sentiment is that international events up until the end of April will be cancelled. The organiser in Hungary has not yet have any plans on cancelling the event itself , however the training camp planned for 13-16 April is cancelled. The IOF will continue to monitor this and update on the situation.
  • Junior World Orienteering Championships in Turkey 28 June – 3 July. Turkey has announced that all international events up to May 1, 2020 will be cancelled or postponed. This does not yet affect JWOC however it does mean that the Official Training Camp which was to be held 13-17 April has been postponed until 3-7 May. A new evaluation is planned to be carried out in April.
  • For the World Orienteering Championships in Denmark 7-11 July the IOF, the organiser and the Danish Orienteering Federation have begun a process of making contingency planning in case the event is not able to be organised as planned. Currently Denmark has closed for all sports events for the next 2 weeks (from March 11) with a new decision on restrictions to be made then. But we obviously hope to proceed with the championships as planned. We will communicate this as more information is available. An immediate impact is however that Official Training Camp 3 to be held 23-26 March is cancelled.

For all of these events the IOF recommends teams and participants to stay updated via IOF Eventor and the event websites.

We know that many World Ranking Events are being affected by the various restrictions being put in place. Please check the status of these events in IOF Eventor.

The IOF will continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and we recommend the advice given from the WHO which can be found on their website. Most important in all considerations will be the safety and well-being of participants, organisers and in fact the society that we are a part of. To that effect please remember the following simple advice.