As vaccines begin to be administered, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) prepares for an exciting new season.
On Feb. 19, the IFSC’s Executive Board met via teleconference to address a series of important topics and to ratify a number of decisions. The board confirmed the inaugural competition of the 2021 calendar to take place in Meiningen, Switzerland.
This first World Cup of the year will begin on April 16 and run through the 17. The location has a longstanding tradition of organising the opening World Cup of the season. With the onset of the pandemic early last year, this tradition was interrupted, but the IFSC is excited to welcome it back in 2021.
The current rules were created last year in order to provide a framework for more hygienic and socially distanced competitions. Those rules are currently being updated for the new season and this competition.
Registration for this World Cup will open Monday, February 22. This opening of the World Cup season is exciting as it suggests a more regular schedule than the postponed, rescheduled and frequently cancelled competitions of the previous year. It also allows some professional climbers to return to work.
One point of contention regarding this return to a World Cup schedule, however, is the reality that not all athletes that would normally attend will be able to compete. This can affect international rankings and will provide an inaccurate representation of proficiency among professional climbers.
Canadian Sean McColl has raised his own question regarding the official World Cup schedule, primarily questioning the safety of such competitions. Another concern is for athletes that rely on their ranking as performance indicator for sponsors.
With that said, it is also important that athletes return to work as soon as possible. If the industry is to survive and grow into a post-pandemic world, it is necessary that publicity is generated for the sport. World Cups are an effective vehicle for this consideration.
To that effect, the IFSC has confirmed that the 2021 Moscow World Championships will take place between the 15 and 22 of September. This announcement follows the decision made by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in December of 2020.
According to their press release, “The CAS Panel unanimously determined RUSADA (Russia Anti-Doping Agency) to be non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) in connection with its failure to procure the delivery of the authentic LIMS data (Laboratory Information Management System) and underlying analytical data of the former Moscow Laboratory to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). As a consequence, the Panel issued a number of orders which come into effect on 17 December 2020 for a period of two years, until 16 December 2022.”
“The Panel’s orders include, inter alia, the possibility during the two-year period for any athlete or athlete support personnel from Russia to participate in or attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games (winter or summer) and any world championships organised or sanctioned by a WADA signatory, on the condition that they are not subject to a suspension imposed by a competent authority, that the uniform worn does not contain the flag of the Russian Federation and contains the words “neutral athlete”, and that the Russian national anthem is not played or sung at any official event venue.”
According to their press release, “The IFSC will continue working closely with the Climbing Federation of Russia and other organisations involved to fully respect the CAS decision and, at the same time, deliver an event that lives up to the standards required of the IFSC flagship competition.”
Fortunately, Russian climbers will still be allowed to compete as there have not been examples of any Russian Sport Climbers using performance enhancing drugs.