WFDF confirms that 2021 events are off

The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) today announced that it would not be holding any events in 2021 due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. The decision means that WUGC in Leeuwarden and WU24C in Limerick, both scheduled for later this year, have effectively been cancelled.

A press release issued by WFDF said that it was “primarily concerned about the health and safety of athletes, volunteers, and others involved in planning and holding events” in making the decision to clear the 2021 calendar. It added: “WFDF has concluded that it is simply not feasible to plan cross-border events through 2021, due to varying regulations and restrictions. There can be no certainty as to the ability of athletes to travel and compete safely in various events in 2021.” WFDF confirmed that money paid by teams in 2021 will be fully refunded as soon as possible.

The decision was made following an extension to lockdown conditions announced by the government of the Netherlands on 12 January. The measure was extended to 9 February with ongoing border restrictions part of the response to the virus.

WFDF President Robert ‘Nob’ Rauch said: “While the development of several safe and effective vaccines is good news, the limited availability and slower than expected distribution plan guidance by governmental authorities suggests that a return to whatever our ‘new normal’ will be on a global basis is not going to occur until late this year. After taking into consideration all of the data available to us, in consultation with our event organizers, our review of WHO and other international guidelines, the status of the distribution of a vaccine, and the advice of our medical team, WFDF has concluded that it will not be possible to run large-scale events in 2021 in a way that protects the health and safety of all participants, and it is not even clear that travel and other governmental restrictions will be lifted until late in the year.”

The decision to not hold events in 2021 has a number of effects for the ultimate calendar in 2022. First, qualification for the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama in July 2022 has, according to established WFDF rules, been based on the last completed qualification tournament – WUGC 2016 in London. That means that Great Britain have qualified for the tournament, alongside hosts USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Colombia and European rivals France and Germany.

The other events scheduled for 2022 include:

  • World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC), which will be held as planned in July or August
  • World Beach Ultimate Championships (WBUC) which had originally been planned for November 2021 but will now be held in April 2022
  • The second edition of WMUCC, the master’s version of WUCC, in June or July
  • The World Junior Ultimate Championships scheduled for July or August

Rauch went on to talk about the possibility of more ‘local’ events being able to occur in 2021, adding: “Although large cross-border championship events will be slowest to return, we are hopeful on behalf of our national federations that local and national level competition can resume within the next six months. While athletes have been able to continue to participate in individual disciplines like disc golf, which grew exponentially this last year, we expect a gradual phase-in of team and large event activity, starting with personal training, socially distanced team practices, smaller local events, to full blown competitive events and tournaments.”

As part of that gradual phase-in, WFDF has already spoken to a number of federations who have taken the early decision to cancel their 2021 national championships, events that would effectively serve as qualifiers to WUCC 2022.  WFDF says that it will spend time working with federations to find ways that teams can be selected while keeping local and national health guidance in mind.

WFDF also confirmed that, having paused bid processes during the pandemic, it has engaged with potential bidders for 2022 events and will be moving forward with evaluations. The UKU has previously indicated that it will bid for WUCC 2022 in Nottingham, using a venue very close to the traditional WindFarm fields.