Figure skating’s Grand Prix Final in Osaka postponed due to Omicron variant


OSAKA, Japan –

The new COVID-19 variant has claimed another international sporting event.

Next week’s ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Osaka, Japan has been postponed because of travel restrictions amid the new Omicron variant.

The International Skating Union said in a statement that considering the complicated epidemic situation involving travel restrictions, quarantine requirements, safety concerns and logistical challenges, the organization of the event was extremely challenging.

“The Japan Skating Federation and the local organizing committee tried their best to find solutions but ultimately concluded that, regrettably, they are unable to organize and hold the event as planned,” the statement said.

Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who won bronze at last year’s world championships, had qualified for the final, which features the top six teams in each of the four disciplines after the six Grand Prix series events. Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen were alternates.

Canadian ice dancers Natalie D’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell, and Wesley Chiu (men’s singles) had qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final.

Skate Canada said it “understands and is grateful that the health and safety of all participants remains a top priority.”

“Although this news is disappointing, it in no way detracts from the outstanding performances of the Canadian athletes who qualified for the Grand Prix Final,” Skate Canada’s statement said. “Skate Canada congratulates and recognizes these athletes and their coaches for the outstanding performances in the 2021-2022 Junior and Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.”

The ISU said it will evaluate the possibility of holding the Grand Prix Final at the end of the season.

Earlier this week, the Winter Universiade in Lucerne, Switzerland was cancelled. Also, the junior women’s field hockey World Cup in South Africa was cancelled. Canada’s junior team is still in Potchefstroom, awaiting flights home.

The Grand Prix Final scheduled for Beijing last season was also cancelled due to COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021

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