The Continental Cup scheduled for next month in Fredericton has been cancelled because of the omicron coronavirus variant and isolation requirements for European teams headed to the Beijing Olympics, Curling Canada said on Wednesday.
The event, billed as the curling version of golf’s Ryder Cup, would have seen Team Canada face Team Europe in a series of traditional four-player, mixed doubles, skins games and more from Jan. 20-23.
Curling Canada said tougher travel restrictions for visitors to Canada made it impossible to hold the event, especially given the Europeans would be hard-pressed to satisfy the isolation requirements ahead of the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Olympics.
“The travel restrictions, as well as the proximity in date to the Winter Olympics, were going to prevent most, if not all, of the European teams to attend, and that would affect the integrity of the competition,” Katherine Henderson, the Curling Canada chief executive officer, said in a news release.
The news came as a blow to Wayne Tallon, vice-chair of the organizing committee in Fredericton.
In an interview Wednesday night, Tallon said organizers have been preparing for the high-profile event for more than a year.
“It would have been a really big event for Fredericton,” he said, noting that it would have brought a star-studded roster of curlers to the city.
Claims event meant $2 million into economy
It would also have been a powerful economic shot in the arm: the event was expected to have brought in well over $2 million, Tallon said.
“We had already sold 800 tickets, so we would have filled Willie O’Ree Place with about 2000 tickets pretty easily. It would been a great event. And we were ready.”
The Continental Cup bonspiel, which is usually held in Las Vegas, has never been held in New Brunswick before.
“That’s how I sold it to Curling Canada,” Tallon said with a chuckle. “I said ‘We could be the Las Vegas of Atlantic Canada’.”
He said Curling Canada was just as disappointed to have to deliver the bad news as he was to hear it, but noted they did say that “Fredericton is still in the queue to host a big event.”
They have not specified what that event will be yet, he said, but “we are looking forward to whatever they have to offer us.”