The World Handball Championships has become the latest sporting event to fall victim to the current lockdown restrictions after GAA Handball today confirmed that the event will not take place as scheduled in 2021.
The triennial showpiece, which attracted over 2,000 entrants when it was last held in Ireland in 2012, traditionally rotates between the United States, Canada and Ireland, with Australia having hosted once in 1988.
The last renewal was in the US in 2018 and the event was pencilled in for Ireland this year but speculation has been rife for some time that it may not go ahead and the news finally became public yesterday.
"It is with great disappointment that we inform you that GAA Handball has received official notification from the World Handball Council that they have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 World Handball Championships due to be held in Ireland later this year," stated GAA Handball National Manager John Kelly in an email message to all members.
"The decision was taken due to the ongoing situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, taking into account the safety of members, the financial impact of the virus and the impact on world travel."
Handball, as primarily an indoor sport, has been hit particularly hard since the onset of Covid. The blue riband All-Ireland finals festival was due to take place last March, just a week after the initial lockdown, and has yet to be finished and while some competitions were played on a limited basis at the end of last summer, otherwise all activity has ceased for the sport, which has approximately 10,000 registered members in Ireland.
The long-awaited €7m national centre at Croke Park has also seen its opening delayed and has been used as a Covid test centre at various times.
Dr Raquel Barnes, President of the World Handball Council, stated:
“Due to the unforeseeable events that are occurring globally as it pertains to the novel Coronavirus, it is with regret that I inform you of the cancellation of this year’s World Handball Championships, I will keep you abreast of any developments as they become available.”
No decision has been made yet as to a proposed date for a rescheduled World Championship.