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Ondra Celebrates, Megos Voices Covid World Cup Concerns

The two Olympic qualified champions had different takes on the recent Briançon World Cup

The first IFSC lead world cup of 2020 took place this past weekend. It’s the first event since the covid-19 lockdown took place. Adam Ondra won for men and Laura Rogora for women. Alex Megos finished in fifth. See results here.

There were around 5,000 spectators who showed up to watch. Unlike in Canada, many European countries have relaxed their covid-19 social distancing rules. Not everyone in the audience was wearing a mask.

The event was full of ups and downs and was exciting to watch. Ondra was accused of stepping on a bolt, a throwback to what happened at the Olympic qualifier in Japan last year. “I was again accused of, as well as of the Olympic qualification in Japan, that I stepped on the bolt. Fortunately, our protest was accepted and it was confirmed, that I really didn’t stand on it.”

After the comp, Ondra reflected on the finals route: “The last metres were really dramatic and I got very tired there. I thought these were my last steps before falling, but fortunately, I was able to hold that tiny hold and clip the rope into the final quickdraw. It was a really beautiful experience when 5,000 spectators applauded me. I think I will remember this victory for a long time.”

Megos, however, posted a statement questioning the ethics of the event and whether it’s fair to hold a world cup during a pandemic when international climbers couldn’t attend. Read his statement below from an Instagram post:

Everybody seemed to be waiting for this world cup in Briançon last weekend. I went to the comp with mixed feelings. I knew I hadn’t prepared for it and after a long and intense period on rock I felt like I needed a little bit of down time, so I wasn’t very psyched to try hard and compete. Nonetheless I thought I’ll go to see a few people I hadn’t seen in a while and to just climb without any pressure, just for fun. I already heard in advance about various regulations to keep us athletes, spectators and officials safe from covid-19 and to minimize the risk of catching and spreading the virus. Looking back at the comp now I’m really starting to question though if there had been put a lot of thought into this comp and it’s regulations.

Does it make sense to tell some athletes they can’t warm up or cool down on an empty wall because of Corona regulations and then on the other hand have 5000 people standing side by side in front of the wall? Does it make sense to let the athletes warm up side by side without masks in the isolation area but then make them wear masks as soon as they enter an area where the public can see them? In my eyes a lot of the restrictions and rules were questionable and didn’t make much sense when you allow a crowd of 5000 people to come and watch. I also don’t think it is fair towards many athletes to call it a world cup if pretty much only Europeans can attend due to international travel restrictions. All in all this comp was not as fun as I was hoping it would be. If future comps look like this I’m not sure I want to continue.

To finish on a positive note though, I got to finals, despite not climbing very well to get there. In finals for the first time ever I felt relaxed and confident straight away from the first move on. I felt flowy and I had a lot of fun during the time I was on the wall. Maybe I was a little too confident and relaxed and I shouldn’t have jumped for holds like I did and fall off, but it was fun! I’m pleased with my mental game in finals. Still needs a little fine tuning though.

Many of Megos’s followers thanked him for using his platform to voice his concerns. One climber said: “Thanks for sharing. It’s refreshing to hear someone speak up about what you saw and experienced. We sat and streamed the event, and were puzzled when the cameras panned out to show the huge crowd. I really hope the IFSC can get their shit together and develop meaningful protocol to keep everyone safe.”

No North Americans attended the recent world cup. The remaining IFSC world cups have been cancelled or postponed throughout the summer. You can check out the potential upcoming events later this year here.

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