2020 Henley cancelled (updated)
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the 2020 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Royal Canadian Henley Joint Commission along with its partners, Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) and the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation (CHRC), announced Monday the cancellation of the 2020 Royal Canadian Henley Regatta (RCHR) scheduled to take place Aug. 2-9 on Martindale Pond.
Henley Commissioner Bill Schenck said there was no other logical choice but to cancel the event.
“There are a whole bunch of things up in the air,” he said. “The border is still closed, the rowing clubs aren’t on the water at this point. We keep hearing from the government we’re not going to have any large events until the earliest in the fall.
“It’s not an easy decision to make. We were trying to work through all the details in order to make a call on this.”
Schenck said he has been in contact with several of rowing clubs south of the border.
“They’re not back on the water yet and without athletes rowing, to expect them to come and compete at Henley, especially when they don’t have any money coming in, you go through all this planning and then no one shows up anyway.
“It’s in the best interest of everyone.”
Schenck said despite overwhelming evidence that it was the right call to cancel the regatta, it was still a difficult decision to pull the trigger.
“It is with much sadness and regret that the Henley Commission has agreed that the 2020 regatta must be cancelled,” Schenck said. “This decision has weighed heavily on the Commission. In the 139 years of regatta history, we have only suspended racing once. This was for three years, 1916 to 1918, because of World War I.
“It’s very depressing. To have to be the one to make the call, it’s not easy. I’m not very happy about the decision we have to make. I know it’s the right decision but you hate being the commissioner and having to make that call. It comes with territory and there’s no looking back and second-guessing ourselves on the decision we made.”
Henley chair Peter Scott feels for the athletes who will miss out on the experience.
“This is particularly difficult knowing how hard the new cohort of U15 who have trained so hard over the winter and have yet to race all season,” he said. “I encourage them to forge ahead with their rowing dreams and we will be waiting next year to provide them with the experience they missed this season. I feel for all those kids who will bump up an age category and miss their best chance at a Henley gold.”
Scott said more than just the rowers would have been at risk.
“This regatta, which is deep in tradition, is much bigger than just those who take to the water,” he said. “This cancellation will ensure that we will not put the volunteers and residents of Niagara in any health risk from those who would have travelled from far to compete in this week-long event.”
St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik was sad to see the event cancelled.
“We know this pandemic has changed how we go about our daily lives in our city. We’ve seen many events we treasure, like the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, affected, but protecting the health and safety of our community is the priority,” Sendzik said. “The Henley is an important part of our city’s history and sporting community, and I know organizers and competitors will come back stronger in future years.”
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