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Coping with Covid-19 – a varied picture around the world

New initiatives and changed venues, alongside tight event guidelines and some postponements and cancellations; the world’s Orienteering federations are working hard to enable our sport to continue, despite some setbacks. Out in the terrain, by and large, everything is as normal – and that is of course what matters most.

Spain and Portugal are two typical countries in this respect. Spain has new regulations, requiring participants to wear masks at all times when not actually competing, and events are going ahead. The country’s MTBO Championships have been held this weekend, covered by LaLiga SportsTV. In Portugal, the venue for next year’s Portugal O-Meeting (13-16 February) has been changed from Lisbon to Loulé near the Algarve coast, where there is expected to be a lower infection risk. Portugal has just held its TrailO Championships.

Multi-stage Virtual O in Brazil
In Brazil, badly hit by the pandemic, the national championships arranged for April were cancelled and there has been nothing beyond local events since, but a full programme of events is planned for 2021. A special initiative in Brazil is a 5-stage Virtual-O competition spread over several weeks, like Lockdown Orienteering in Great Britain earlier in the year. It has attracted strong interest; more than 500 Brazilian orienteers registered for the first round. Each competition includes several ‘disciplines’, such as map analysis, comparison of routes for a specific course leg, identification of a course leg from watching a video sequence, and virtual Trail Orienteering. Training has been available ahead of each round, for practice. For an example, visit https://www.cbo.org.br/evento/864 and click on Model Event; instructions are in English as well as Portuguese.

In North America, in both Canada and USA it is a picture of local events only, with 2-metre separation and masks required. Travel to other clubs’ events is being discouraged unless the two clubs actively work together. OUSA has published a very clear set of guidelines for preventing Covid-19 transmission at events, probably suitable for many nations, which can be found on www.orienteeringUSA.org.

Photo by Jānis Līgats

Three championship wins for Sandra Grosberga
Latvia along with the other Baltic states has been one of the more fortunate nations. All championship races have been held late in the season in a reorganised programme, with as many as 676 starters in the Middle races. A notable name in Latvia this season is Sandra Grosberga, who comfortably won W21E in Sprint, Middle and Long. Championships in MTBO and TrailO have also been held.

Latvia has also staged the 2020 European Rogaining Championships, a 24-hour score event for teams of 2-3 across a large area of wild country. There were 83 controls with points values between 2 and 10, giving a maximum of 483 points; the winning team from Estonia scored 459 points. 750 competitors from 19 nations had entered, but Corona restricted the number of participants to 518 from 11 nations.

Sweden ran its Middle and Long Distance championships just over a week ago. The big star was Gustav Bergman, completing a double victory in M21E for the third year in succession. Tove Alexandersson won the women’s Middle race by 3.16 but retired in the Long, feeling unwell. Here, Sanna Fasth was the winner by 17 seconds over Sara Hagström.

TrailO and MTBO news
In Trail Orienteering the European Championships, due to be held in May in Finland, have been postponed for a year, but the World Championships in Hong Kong in December have been cancelled completely. This year’s European Cup in TrailO has now been cancelled, but the ECTO event planned for Italy on 9-11 October is expected at the time of writing to go ahead, along with a later event in Finland.

Virtual TrailO attracted many followers early in the year, and continues in a big way in October with the second edition of the TORUS Cup, 8 challenging TempO competitions on Tuesdays and Thursdays over a period of 4 weeks. An easier ’Beginners’ class is being added this time.  More than 600 competitors are expected to take part. Details at http://www.yq.cz/trail-o/TempO/TORUS/.

MTBO at international level has been badly hit. World Championships have been cancelled, but a restricted European event was held in Finland in September. The Sprint races were won by home riders Jussi Laurila and Marika Hara; in the Middle races, winners were Laurila again and Lithuanian rider Gabriele Andrasiuniene. National championships have been held late-season in several countries, with local events continuing as usual.

Orienteering with your SmartPhone!
Many nations have noted a big growth in recreational Orienteering this year. Orienteering via MapRunF and iOrienteering, for example, have become very popular. They use apps installed on SmartPhones, using GPS or QR-code technology, to make Orienteering training and small competitions even more fun and easy to organise. To get started, go to http://maprunners.weebly.com/maprunf and www.iorienteering.com. In many countries the more traditional Permanent Courses, with maps downloadable or available on site, are also being well used at the present time.

 

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