World Rowing has announced the cancellation of a number of events due to the coronavirus pandemic, including qualification regattas for this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Among the decisions taken by the World Rowing Federation (FISA) Executive Committee and the respective Member Federations and the Organising Committees is the cancellation of the Americas Olympic and Paralympic qualification regatta, which had been due to take place in Rio de Janeiro from April 2 to 5, and the final Olympic qualification regatta, which had been scheduled to be held in Swiss city Lucerne from May 17 to 19.
Also called off are the Asia/Oceania continental Olympic qualification regatta, which had been due to take place in Chungju in South Korea from April 27 to 30, and the European continental Olympic qualification regatta, which had been scheduled to be held in Varese in Italy from April 27 to 29.
Based on the cancellations, World Rowing has stated that qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics using the planned regattas is no longer possible.
Owing to the later date of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the international governing body says solutions are still being sought to possibly offer the Americas, Asia/Oceania, European and final Paralympic qualification regattas as qualification opportunities.
The target for this decision is no later than April 5.
World Rowing says it is now in close contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in order to finalise proposals regarding the changes to the respective qualification systems.
The next communication is due to take place tomorrow.
"FISA understands the tremendous disruption to athletes, crews and all training opportunities as a result of the global pandemic situation and is taking these decisions in the very best and most principled way we can under the circumstances," a World Rowing statement reads.
"Due to the unprecedented containment measures being taken by Governments around the world, we recognise that Member Federations' planning for Tokyo 2020 qualification, travel, accommodation and equipment movement is changing on a daily basis.
"FISA is working to gather information, analyse carefully, make decisions and communicate promptly."
Another event cancelled is World Rowing Cup III, which had been due to take place in Lucerne from May 22 to 24.
Regarding world and European rowing for the rest of 2020, World Rowing says it is in continuous contact with the Organising Committees staging events later in May, June and through to October to understand the challenges being faced.
"FISA is working on a daily basis to make well-founded decisions and communicate them on a weekly basis to minimise negative consequences and create as much certainty as possible," the statement reads.
"As soon as possible, further information on these events will be issued."
The coronavirus pandemic has fuelled suggestions the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics could be postponed or cancelled, claims repeatedly denied by the IOC and the Organising Committee, who have refused to alter their stance that the event will go ahead as planned.
But the impact on qualification for International Federations remains the most pressing issue in the coming months as organisers scramble to rearrange events to ensure a fair system for athletes.
"With the outbreak of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), the quickly growing number of cases now reported worldwide, the Government actions to attempt to contain the transmission of the virus make it very difficult and unadvisable to stage international competitions during the months of March, April and through to May 2020," the statement adds.
"The health and safety of the athletes and all other participants, including the general public, as well as taking responsible and necessary measures to manage the spread of the virus are the priorities of all parties involved in running international rowing events.
"FISA and the respective Organising Committees have been in regular contact since the outbreak began.
"In all calls, the latest information and recommendations from the World Health Organization, other international health experts and the decisions of Government and health authorities of the participating nations have been reviewed and discussed in detail.
"All have realised the multitude of issues that would prevent teams from travelling now, during April and foreseeably during May, including the travel restrictions being imposed by an increasing number of national authorities, mandatory and voluntary quarantine periods, and lack of medical coverage for coronavirus in some countries.
"These factors, amongst others, prevent the participation of Member Federations in the events scheduled in April and May 2020.
"We also understand that prompt and decisive action is being sought and is needed in order to minimise the negative financial impacts on all stakeholders given a pragmatic analysis of the situation."