“I don’t understand yet how all these tournaments will look like, there is no specifics, ISU itself does not know how to hold the Grand Prix. Will the borders be open? Which countries will athletes compete? Will Europeans arrive at our stage in Moscow? Or representatives of neighboring countries?
Nothing is known. ISU is fighting for the Grand Prix, it is very cool and joyful, but nobody knows what the mechanism itself will look like.
Reigning double Olympic figure skating champion Hanyu Yuzuru announced on Friday (28 August) that he will not compete in the 2020-21 ISU Grand Prix series.
In a statement on the Skating Japan website, the Japanese star primarily cited concerns over his asthma and how he would be affected were he to contract COVID-19.
He said, "There is still no conclusive evidence about the relationship between bronchial asthma and COVID-19 so it’s difficult to make a judgement. But there is information that those with asthma contracting COVID-19 will make the condition worse so I need to be as cautious as possible.
"I believe we should not create opportunities to spread the infection. If my withdrawal can help protect against the spread of infection, it may become one action which will contribute to stopping the spread of infection.
Hanyu, who is currently in his homeland, also highlighted the logistical issues of his Toronto-based coach Brian Orser attending the Grand Prix event in Japan, saying Orser's absence would mean he cannot compete in "perfect form".
And for the 25-year-old to compete at Skate Canada, he would need to self-isolate for two weeks after flying in from Japan.
After cancelling the Junior Grand Prix, the ISU announced three weeks ago that the senior series would take place with events featuring competitors from the host country, those who train regularly in the host country, and competitors from "respective geographical areas" if they are able to travel safely and legally.
Yuzuru Hanyu, a two-time world champion and two-time defending Olympic champion, will skip the 2020-21 ISU Grand Prix Series. The fan favorite made the announcement on Friday, August 28, citing health concerns.
“There is no conclusive evidence about the relationship between bronchial asthma and COVID-19, so it’s difficult to make a judgment,” the Sendai native said in a statement. “But there is information that for those with asthma, contracting COVID-19 will make the condition worse, so I need to be as cautious as possible.
“I believe we should not create opportunities to spread the infection. If my withdrawal can help protect against the spread of infection, it may become one action which will contribute to stopping the spread of infection.”
Hanyu was expected to compete at the NHK Trophy, a Grand Prix Series event, in Osaka from November 27-29.
The figure skating legend captured the men’s title at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Elizabet Tursynbayeva, the 2019 World silver medalist, said she will not compete in figure skating’s upcoming Grand Prix Series, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee.
Tursynbayeva noted in stating her decision that world ranking points will not be awarded in the series, which starts with Skate America from Oct. 23-25.
Fields for the six Grand Prix events, held on consecutive weekends through November, have not been released.
Skaters will be restricted to one Grand Prix start — halved from the usual two — and to the event in their home nations or closest to their training locations.
Tursynbayeva trains in Russia, one of six nations to host Grand Prix events.
Previously, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu announced he would not compete on the Grand Prix due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel risks.
Russian Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who announced an indefinite break from competition last December, is also not expected to compete. She is hosting a Russian skating-themed TV show but has not announced her future competition plans.
Tursynbayeva took silver behind Zagitova at the most recent world championships in 2019, a surprise given her 12th-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics. Tursynbayeva withdrew before her 2019 Grand Prix events, reportedly after suffering an injury.
Last season’s top skaters were all first-year seniors — Russians Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The world championships were not held due to the pandemic.
Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.
30 September 2020 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final – ISU World Cups Short Track
Considering the pandemic developments and related impact on the organizers and participants of ISU Events, the ISU Council decided to cancel or postpone the following ISU Events:
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, Beijing/China - December 10-13, 2020 (Olympic Test Event)
ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating, Seoul, December 11-13, 2020
ISU World Cup Short Track, Beijing, December 18-20, 2020 (Olympic Test Event)
Concerning the Olympic Test Events in Beijing there were also a number of logistical points raised by potentially participating teams that meant that hosting the competitions on the scheduled dates (close to the end of year holidays and National Championships) would have impacted on the number of participants, given the potential need to quarantine on returning to their home country.
The ISU, in consultation with all stakeholders and considering the pandemic developments, is evaluating the continuation of the 2020/21 season, in particular the re-scheduling possibilities for the important Olympic Test Events. The ISU will communicate the conclusions at a later date.
ISU World Cup Speed Skating
During its August 28, 2020 Council meeting (see ISU Communication 2345) the ISU Council concluded that the first four ISU World Cup Speed Skating Competitions cannot be organized as planned. The following ISU World Cup Speed Skating Competitions were therefore cancelled:
Tomaszow-Mazowiecki, POL November 13-15, 2020
Stavanger, NOR November 20-22, 2020
Salt Lake City, USA December 4-6, 2020
Calgary, CAN December 11-13, 2020
However, based on a basic proposal endorsed by the organizing ISU Members of the initially allocated ISU World Cup Speed Skating Competitions of the season 2020/21, the Council decided to proceed with a specific evaluation of a Hub Concept in the Netherlands as an alternative to hosting the above-mentioned ISU World Cups.
In the meantime, a Council appointed Working Group further elaborated and assessed this possibility with all stakeholders in order to decide whether this is a feasible way to implement safe, high-level international competitions with worldwide participation during the time period of the above-mentioned four World Cups.
Based on the Working Group’s report received, the Council concluded that in principle the Hub Concept is a valid option to achieve the Council’s objective to give Skaters the best possible opportunities to compete internationally provided that the health and safety of the participants can reasonably be ensured. The ISU also concluded that the basic budget for such Hub Concept remains within acceptable limits.
However, the Council also acknowledged the ongoing volatile and unpredictable pandemic development and that some important Speed Skating ISU Members informed the ISU that, at this time, they would not participate in the planned Speed Skating World Cups in the Netherlands. Furthermore, other ISU Members made their participation dependent on further clarifications related to the Hub Concept.
The Council therefore concluded that the implementation of the Hub Concept for World Cup Speed Skating Competitions during the month of November and early December 2020 was premature. Consequently, the Council mandated the Working Group to further evaluate the Hub Concept possibility for ISU Speed Skating Events in early 2021.
The ISU will communicate the conclusions reached by the Working Group and subsequently the Council as soon as possible.