The SMPT have been monitoring the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19 and the responses from respective Governments & health agencies.
We have been holding regular online meetings with our team and discussions with venues, sponsors and players to see whether a viable season could be staged in 2020/21.
Having weighed up all the options, including key information given to us by several of our venues, and with the likelihood that recovery from this pandemic will be a slow process, it is with a heavy heart that we feel it only prudent to cancel all events for the 2020-21 season. These include the six ranking singles events (UK Open. Irish Open, Norwegian Open, British Open, English Masters, World Masters) plus our team competitions (World Cup, World Fours Masters, World Pairs Masters, Belfast Open).
All confirmed entrants for Augusts’ UK Open shall receive a refund shortly.
This decision has not been taken lightly, but we felt it was in the best interests of all participants, our team and supporters. The reasoning for our decision is laid out below and we hope everyone will understand our position.
Social distancing – This will be a reality in the short / medium term for everyone when the measures are eased, this would be almost impossible to incorporate for large events with 150 – 250 players such as ours.
Travel – Players travel from multiple countries which all have different approaches to “contain” and “suppress” the virus. We feel it is unfair to have events where some players wouldn’t be able to enter due to local restrictions that could be in place.
Clear guidance – There is certainly no clear guidance around what is safe and what is a risk at this moment in time and guidance differs from country to country, even different areas in the UK.
Duty of care – Most importantly and our top priority! We have a duty of care to all of our participants, supporters and team and take this very seriously. We want to ensure everyone feels at ease and that they are in a safe environment when playing in our events. At the present moment there is too much uncertainty and asking players to commit to events 3-6 months in advance as we currently do with our entries is not feasible during this ever changing situation.
World Rankings, Order of Merit & World Cup
As no events will be played next season, the World Rankings will be frozen. They will become active again at the UK Open in August 2021. This of course also applies to the Order of Merit.
Qualifiers for the 2020 World Cup shall be invited to take part in the next World Cup which is scheduled for August 2021.
Despite all the downsides to the current situation, we have decided, for now, to keep the English Masters weekend, that’s the 13th & 14th February free. Should things drastically improve and conditions allow, we may be open to staging a smaller, one off competition. We stress however, this is highly unlikely and will only be considered if we are completely satisfied that the health and well-being of all concerned can be achieved.
We would like to thank you for all the support during these unprecedented times and want to reassure all of you that we will be back! It is a massive disappointment to us all that we will not have any of our usual events for over a year but we believe it is the right thing to do. We will continue to work hard behind the scenes as we strive to improve our tournaments and the sport even further. We will also continue our communication with our current venue providers and reassure them of our continued support. We will of course inform you when provisional dates are agreed for events for 2021/22.
Finally, we hope everyone will be able to return to bowling as soon as is safe to do so. We hope everyone will support their local clubs as this will be hugely important if the sport is to survive. For now though, please stay safe and well.
Yours in bowls
Stephen, Simon & Craig.