Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID-19 limbo

The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday awaiting test results for the COVID-19 virus.

A playoff game and a pair of semifinals were scrapped Saturday as the World Curling Federation and Curling Canada looked at rescheduling options for those games.

The medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Shortly after Canada’s Brendan Bottcher was eliminated from contention by Scotland on Friday night, the WCF announced infections had been detected among some participants.

The positive tests did not come from the six teams that qualified for the playoffs, and those who tested positive did not have symptoms, according to Curling Canada.

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All playoff teams nevertheless underwent testing Saturday morning. Games were on hold until test results cleared athletes to get back on the ice.

The World Curling Federation has not identified the number of cases, saying those involved were isolating and contact tracing was underway.

A playoff game between the United States and Switzerland, and semifinal games involving Sweden, Russia and Scotland were on Saturday’s schedule.

“Rescheduling options are being developed but will only be considered if athletes and officials can be kept safe under the current protocols,” the WCF said Saturday in a statement.

Alberta Health approved Curling Canada’s plan to host events in a controlled environment walled off from the general public.

The men’s world championship was the fourth event in Calgary’s curling bubble following the Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed curling championship, in which there were no reported cases of COVID-19.

There are no spectators in WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Arena.

Teams are confined to the arena and their hotel across the Trans-Canada Highway. Teams drive themselves back and forth.

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Scotland skip Bruce Mouat, right, bumps fists with Team Canada third Darren Moulding after defeating Team Canada in the qualification round at the Men’s World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Curling Canada adopted many elements from Hockey Canada’s operation of the world junior men’s hockey championship in Edmonton from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.

The international curling teams didn’t arrive in Canada by charter flights as the hockey players did, but flew commercially.

A negative test taken less than 72 hours before travelling to Calgary was required.

Upon arrival in Calgary, the athletes and team personnel began a week-long “managed quarantine protocol” with four separate tests taken during that span.

All 14 teams, including 13 from other countries, started the men’s world championship April 2.

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The field was whittled down to six by the end of the preliminary round Friday afternoon.

Teams and coaches departing Canada would have been required to take another test before leaving the country.

A pair of Grand Slams, which are not Curling Canada events, are also planned for Calgary.

The Humpty’s Championship Cup starts Wednesday followed April 20-25 by the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

Those tournaments feature Canadian and international men’s and women’s teams. Teams have begun arriving in Calgary to undergo testing and quarantine.

The women’s world curling championship, relocated from Switzerland to Calgary, follows April 30 to May 9 in Calgary.

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