The World Curling Federation (WCF) has announced this year's editions of the men's, women's, mixed doubles and senior World Championships will not be rescheduled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The unprecedented decision by the governing body impacts World Championship qualification for the 2021 editions of the tournaments and the Olympic qualification points process for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Following the decision to cancel this year's editions of the events, the WCF announced details of the qualification system for next year's equivalent Championships.
For the women, Switzerland will qualify as the hosts, with the event due to take place in Schaffhausen.
The Swiss will be joined by two Pacific-Asia Zone countries who will qualify from the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2020 and another seven European countries who will qualify through the European Curling Championships 2020.
The women’s Americas Challenge, in 2021, will qualify two countries for the world women’s Championships and will include both Canada and the United States.
As one of the Federation’s three regional zones will not lose a guaranteed place in 2020, just one country will qualify for the World Championship via the World Qualification Event in 2021.
For the men's World Championships, Canada will qualify as the hosts, although the host city for the Championships has yet to be confirmed.
NEWS | World Curling Championships 2020 not to be rescheduled— World Curling (@worldcurling) April 9, 2020
🥌 Qualification for World Curling Championships 2021
🥌 Olympic Qualification Points procedure
🥌 World Rankings update
Story here 👉 https://t.co/KmK3YLDUa4#Curling pic.twitter.com/WxHI5vLWce
A further two countries will qualify from the Pacific-Asia zone with eight countries qualifying from Europe.
One will qualify via the Americas Challenge and one will qualify from the World Qualification Event in 2021.
For the mixed doubles the WCF say that they intend for the 20 countries that qualified this year to retain their places for the 2021 Championships.
As a result of the cancellation of the 2020 edition, next year's World Mixed Doubles Championship will be expanded to 24 countries, with the four countries that qualify from the World Mixed Doubles Qualification Event in 2021 also taking part.
The expansion to the 2021 World Championship means that eight countries will be relegated at the end of the event, instead of the normal four, so that the 2022 World Championship returns to the traditional 20 teams participating.
No Olympic qualification points are being awarded this year because of the cancellation of the World Championships.
The WCF say they will propose to the International Olympic Committee that the top six countries at the 2021 World Championships and the top seven countries in the 2021 World Mixed Doubles qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Olympic hosts China qualify automatically for Beijing 2022, so if the country finishes in the top six in the women’s and men’s events only five would qualify from the Worlds, while in the mixed doubles if China finished in the top seven, the eighth placed country in that event would then qualify.
The WCF is also proposing an expanded Olympic Qualification Event in December 2021 open to any countries who do not qualify through next year's World Championships.
A further three countries are set to qualify from the men's and women's disciplines at this final Olympic qualifier, although this could be increased to four depending on China's result at the 2021 World Championships.
The WCF also announced that the current world rankings in women’s, men’s and mixed doubles will remain unchanged for the next year.
The governing body confirmed that the cancellation of the World Senior Curling Championships had no bearings on any future tournaments as it is a stand-alone event.
The WCF added that they hope to rearrange the European Curling Championships C Division 2020 if possible.
"This has been one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make in the history of our sport — to completely cancel four World Championships in a single season — particularly when Olympic qualification is at stake," said World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness.
“I am extremely grateful to all those who have helped us come to this unprecedented decision and kindly ask for the entire curling community’s understanding, as I recognise the implications of such a decision are disheartening.
"However, when the Board, our staff and I considered the costs of rescheduling and finding space in the curling calendar, when we still have no idea as to the full extent of the coronavirus, we really were left with no other option.
“I fervently hope that we will see an end to the spread of this dreadful virus in the very near future and life can return to some normality.
"Please stay safe and well, and let’s look forward to us getting back to curling soon and delivering a complete 2020-2021 season.”