Already two ISU Grand Prix events have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic this season – Skate Canada International last week and Internationaux de France today.
Just like in Canada, the French stage was cancelled after the event organizers consulted with local government and health officials about the ability to safely host a competition. The cancellation was deemed as the appropriate decision after French President Emmanuel Macron announced a curfew in various locations, including Grenoble – where the competition has taken place every year since 2017.
Meanwhile, this upcoming weekend, Las Vegas will host the first stage of the Grand Prix series – Skate America. The American organizers have taken serious precautions to make sure all health guidelines are followed. U.S. Figure Skating is following a similar model that several major sports organizations have implemented – a bubble.
All of the athletes and everyone else associated with the event will be met at the McCarran International Airport, and will be transported by car to the Orleans Arena. Upon entering the bubble, they will receive a COVID test and be checked into their hotel rooms at the connected Orleans Hotel and Casino. Three floors and four elevators will be exclusively used for the event, and everyone must stay in their hotel rooms for 12 to 14 hours until their COVID test results come back.
Once the negative test results are received by text or e-mail, the participants will be active in the bubble and have to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s safety measures of wearing a mask and social distancing. If a positive test results is received, the person would be retested. Another positive test would rule the participant out of the event.
The Grand Prix series has gone through massive changes this season because of various travelling restrictions and safety precautions. Due to these reasons, many skaters that fans have been highly anticipating to see will not be performing. Among them are skaters like Rika Kihira, who would have made her season debut in France, and Jason Brown, who was close to possibly winning his first ever Grand Prix event in Canada.
Preview of Rika Kihira’s short program, which is yet to be performed at a competition this season: