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Schools athletics hit by virus

By Laura Taylor, Mar 23 2020 03:17PM

The ESAA English Schools Track & Field Cup has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus.

Schools’ athletics bosses have decided to cancel the event scheduled for July – while a decision on the ESAA’s blue riband Track & Field Championships will be made in due course.

Hundreds of schools were due to have taken part in the qualifying county and regional rounds of the competition and the final on July 4.

But in an open letter to all teachers, organisers and pupils, Chris Cohen, honorary secretary of the ESAA, said: “We are all aware of the challenges that have been thrown up by the coronavirus in all areas of our lives

“We had hoped that, by postponing the first round of the Track & Field Cup, we could stage this round on the dates of the regional round. It has become clear over the last day or two that, for a variety of reasons, this will not be possible, so the decision has been made that this year’s Schools Track & Field Cup will be cancelled.

“All entries to this year’s competition will receive free entry to the 2021 Cup competition. As the competition is completely staffed by volunteers, as is the whole of the association, we will not be in a position to refund payments to schools that have entered, but this will be held over until next year.

“At this stage, we do not intend to cancel the Track & Field Championships or the Combined Events Regional Rounds. We are working on a variety of contingency plans and hope that we will be in a position to hold an event of some sort.

“The last option for us would be outright cancellation, but we want to give ourselves as long as possible before making that decision.

“We recognise that, for thousands of young people every year, this is their Olympics and for thousands who have gone before, their first memories of major competition are our championships. We do not aim to lose them without a fight.

“The association is already committed to spend more than £50,000 this summer on events that may not take place. But we cannot afford to commit any more until we have some certainty.”