Will the Euro 2020 women’s handball take place? The announcement, Monday, November 16, by Norway of its withdrawal from co-organization with Denmark of the event plunges the governing bodies of handball into doubt, fifteen days before the competition.
In question, the health constraints related to the Covid-19 pandemic, announced Monday the Norwegian Handball Federation. “Based on the in-depth assessments of the Norwegian health authorities, as well as the clear demands and wishes of the political authorities, it is clear that Norway cannot be the host of the Women’s Handball Euro” from December 3 to 20, justified the federation. The trail of an event outfit exclusively in Denmark is now explored.
Denmark immediately announced that it was working on a « solution alternative ». “We are already looking at what can be done regarding the running of the whole European Championship in Denmark. I cannot say more at the moment. It is a huge task that awaits us ”Danish Handball Federation President Per Bertelsen said in a statement.
The body plans to present a possible project by Tuesday at the latest, but it has already warned local media that it does not intend to pay the bill related to the transfer of the competition.
Semi-containment in Denmark
The task is all the more complicated as part of Denmark, in the north-west of the country, is in semi-confinement and he is ordered not to go there at least until December 3, date to which one should start the competition. These restrictions have already affected the organization of the championship, as matches of the group stage were to be played in one of the affected municipalities. They have since been moved.
On Monday, the European Handball Federation (EHF) said “Very much regret the decision of the Norwegian government”, in reference to its refusal to grant exceptions to the very strict measures in place in the country.
According to the protocol in force, the detection of a positive case for a player or a member of the management would have resulted in the quarantine of the whole team, as well as other teams that it would have met shortly before. The rules are less strict in Denmark.
Norway were to host around 60% of the matches, including the final in Trondheim (west). The president of the Norwegian federation, Kåre Geir Lio, told TV2 that the decision was the result of a “Overall assessment”, not specific aspects of the protocol.
Rebound of the epidemic
The horizon had darkened lately for the Norwegian organizers, with the declarations of the leaders of the country which considered difficult the holding of the meetings on the Norwegian ground.
“The Handball Federation shows a spirit of responsibility with this decision”, reacted the Minister of Culture and Sports, Abid Raja, to the Norwegian press agency NTB. “In light of the epidemiological situation in the country, it is reasonable to cancel your participation in the event. “
Although counting at this stage among the countries most spared in Europe by the Covid-19, Norway recently observed a rebound in the epidemic, which led the authorities to put in place multiple restrictions, in particular concerning the events and sporting and cultural gatherings.