The IOF Council met via Teams on Friday September 25th. One of the items on the agenda was the potential participation of junior athletes born in year 2000 at the Junior World Orienteering Championships 2021 (JWOC) and the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships 2021 (JWMTBOC). The corresponding events in 2020 were forced to be cancelled due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The IOF, via the Foot Orienteering Commission and MTB Orienteering Commission respectively, consulted with member federations about whether they supported final-year juniors, born in 2000, being given the opportunity to participate one last time at the championships in 2021. The member consultations were unfortunately not conclusive and gave no clear direction as to the best decision.
Based upon their understanding of the consultation answers and further deliberations, the IOF Council decided that there would be no rules changes implemented to allow the participation of athletes born in 2000 at junior championships in 2021. Council felt that it is in fact difficult to assess how long the effects of the pandemic will continue and that even JWOC and JWMTBOC 2021 could be affected. It felt that any more far reaching or permanent changes to the age structure at junior championships may affect member federations national championships, and that any such change should be based upon more extensive consultation with members. Council also determined that the principle decision should be equally applied to all disciplines. This also means that should it become impossible to organise the Junior World Ski Orienteering Championships in 2021, the same principle will be applied.
– This was a very difficult decision and we are sincerely sorry that some of our junior athletes have not been able to compete for championships medals in their final year of junior eligibility, says IOF President Leho Haldna.
– But we feel that the decision reflects to the reality we have today. We lost the entire 2020 season and still hope that we can restart our international events programme in 2021.
Other decisions from the Council meeting:
- The Special Rules for the Orienteering World Cup 2021 and the Ski Orienteering World Cup 2021 were approved.
- Updated Competition Rules valid for Ski Orienteering 2021 Season were approved.
- The new IOF Anti-Doping Rules were approved. These would come into force on 1 January 2021 in connection with the new World Anti-Doping Code 2021 also coming into force.
- Council decided to cancel the customary Joint Meeting as a large in-person conference. Instead, the Joint Meeting would be held digitally.
- Event appointment news:
- European Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships 2020 have been rescheduled for April 2021, Covid-19 restrictions allowing. A final decision will be made in January 2021.
- World Masters Ski Orienteering Championships 2021 have been rescheduled to be organised in connection with the Ski Orienteering World Cup in Finland in March, Covid-19 restrictions allowing. A final decision will be made in December 2020.
- European Ski Orienteering Championships and World Masters Ski Orienteering Championships 2022 have been appointed to Bulgaria
- European MTB Orienteering Championships, European Junior and Youth MTB Orienteering Championships and MTBO World Cup 2023 have been appointed to Portugal
- World MTB Orienteering Championships and Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships 2024 have been appointed to Bulgaria
Minutes from the meeting can be found here