Besides the impact on our daily life the COVID-19 outbreak causes a significant disruption on the events industry and of course, the windsurfing events industry, too. The events industry faces a difficult year, the situation is changing fast and nobody knows what the landscape will look like in one month. The virus is not only impacting events directly, through local rules forcing events to cancel, but also indirectly through impacting funding for events, travel restrictions, etc.
Two PWA racing events (Japan, South Korea) already got cancelled and the PWA Marignane World Cup got postponed to October. Also the IWT and EFPT are not spared from the Coronavirus. The opening of the EFPT tour in Austria got postponed to September and the IWT cancelled their opening events in Japan and Chile.
As outdoor enthusiasts, staying home is not easy and seeing the cancellation of windsurfing events is a pity. But people’s safety and health is the most important thing.
We caught up with PWA tour manager Rich Page for a short update on the current situation.
“Even if we were to lose all events for 2020, it will not be the end of the World Tour.” Rich Page
Continentseven: How does the Coronavirus impact the PWA tour?
Rich Page: It is impossible to know exactly how the situation will unfold. Right now we are working closely with all our event organisers and at this time no other events have been cancelled. That does not mean that we are not monitoring the situation closely or that other events will not be moved or cancelled, but in each case both the PWA and our local event partners want to do everything possible to try to make the events happen. If that becomes impossible then of course we will cancel, but with such a dynamic situation, things could get far worse, but could also get far better in a short space of time, so until we are forced to by government restrictions, or financial damage limitation we will keep all options on the table. In the short term, even if we were to lose all events for 2020, it will not be the end of the World Tour. The PWA is an organisation that operates efficiently on minimal budgets and our remote, satellite working practices make us well suited for working in the current environment, but we have created some contingency plans to deal with the worst-case possibilities. Of course, if the situation persisted much beyond the 2020 season then, eventually, the tour would undoubtedly be at risk, but if that is the case, then I think there will be bigger problems for us all to worry about than just the Tour! Either way, and whenever we reach the point that things return to normal, whether it is 3 weeks or 3 years, windsurfing will still be here, and we will still have a World Tour.
Which difficulties are you facing right now?
This is a situation impacting the entire planet, not just our sport, and it is not just events that have been affected. As much of the new 2020 racing equipment is manufactured in China, many riders did not have any idea if or when they might receive their new equipment, giving them no opportunity to train and tune their gear and be properly prepared for the season. The challenge at the moment is to do everything we can to keep events on the schedule, but without compromising their financial security in the long term. The later an event is cancelled, the more costs there will be that cannot be recovered so the greater long-term damage. At the same time, if we start cancelling events now that are not due to take place for several months, we may have acted prematurely, so it is a case of identifying the correct point at which to act.
Do you already have an idea, which PWA event will be the first event this year or could it even happen that there won’t be any PWA event this year?
It’s impossible to say right now, anything is possible. At the time of writing all remaining events are still moving forward with the intention of them going ahead as planned, but that could change at any time. Its definitely very possible we will lose or postpone further events, and not out of the bounds of possibility that no events will happen this year, its just impossible to know at this stage.
© Continentseven 2020