The IOF has confirmed the cancellation of two World Championship events amid the coronavirus pandemic ©IOF

International Orienteering Federation (IOF) has confirmed the cancellation of the Junior World Orienteering Championships and World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Junior World Orienteering Championships was scheduled to take place in Turkey from October 10 to 16.

The competition had originally been due to take place from June 28 to July 3, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The IOF Council determined this year’s event was unable to take place during a digital meeting held on July 31.

A decision was also taken to postpone the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships, which was due to take place in Portugal during October.

The Junior World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships and the European Youth Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships, which would have formed part of the event, have also been cancelled.

The IOF has said there are positive developments regarding the hosting of regional events.

This includes the European Youth Orienteering Championships in Hungary, which the IOC Council deemed can still take place between October 24 and 26.

A proposal from organisers to include competition classes for junior athletes was approved by the IOF Council, with the event now becoming the 2020 European Junior Orienteering Championships.

The IOF said the event is envisaged as being a "one-off", but will consult with member federations to determine whether the European Junior Championships should be established as a permanent regional event, as is the case in other IOF regions.

Organisers in Hungary reportedly presented a number of preventive actions which will be taken to secure the safety of the participants in light of the COVID-19 situation.

"The decisions made by council today are consistent with the information the IOF has gathered regarding the difficulty in organising global orienteering events, where different regions of the world are at different levels of restrictions and activity due to the pandemic," said Tom Hollowell, IOF secretary general.

"At the same time, we do see some more positive developments in Europe where we are able to conduct events at regional level, first the European Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships and now the European Youth Orienteering Championships.

"I really need to show appreciation to our organisers and member federations for their continuing understanding and assistance as we try to find the best solutions for offering athletes opportunities to compete at Championship level events in a safe environment."

Several IOF events have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic ©IOF
Several IOF events have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic ©IOF

The IOF said the decisions were largely based upon consultation carried out with members regarding their ability and willingness to participate, as well as the recommendations of the respective organisers and IOF senior event advisers.

Answers from 46 IOF members to the consultation process revealed broad participation would not be possible in World Championship events, with the governing body determining that this would significantly reduce the value of the events for athletes, organisers, venues and partners.

The IOF added that the European region members were much more positive about their possibilities for participating in the European Junior Orienteering Championships, with a clear majority stating that they most likely or certainly would send a team.

The IOF confirmed that following the Junior World Orienteering Championships cancellation the organisers of the events from 2020 to 2022 have agreed to move their events by one year.

This will see Turkey host the Junior World Championships in 2021, with Portugal and Romania then staging the 2022 and 2023 events respectively.

The IOF said it intends to open an opportunity for athletes born in 2000, who had their final year of junior eligibility in 2020, to compete for medals at next year’s Junior World Championships.

A consultation with member federations over the best method for including these athletes will take place prior to a final decision.

A decision is expected to be made at the IOF Council meeting on September 25.