Men's world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men's world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday awaiting test results for the COVID-19 virus.

Shortly after Canada's Brendan Bottcher was eliminated from contention by Scotland on Friday night, the World Curling Federation announced infections had been detected among some participants.

The positive tests did not come from the six teams that qualified for the playoffs, and those who tested positive did not have symptoms, according to Curling Canada.

All playoff teams nevertheless underwent testing Saturday morning. Games were halted until test results cleared athletes to get back on the ice.

The World Curling Federation did not identify the number of cases, saying those involved were isolating and contact tracing was underway.

The WCF declined to comment on the situation Saturday morning.

A playoff game between the United States and Switzerland, and semifinal games involving Sweden and Russia were on Saturday's schedule. The medal games are Sunday.

Alberta Health approved Curling Canada's plan to host events in a controlled environment walled off from the general public.

The men's world championship was the fourth event in Calgary's curling bubble following the Canadian men's, women's and mixed curling championship, in which there were no reported cases of COVID-19.

There are no spectators in WinSport's Markin MacPhail Arena.

Teams are confined to the arena and their hotel across the Trans-Canada Highway. Teams drive themselves back and forth.

Curling Canada adopted many elements from Hockey Canada's operation of the world junior men's hockey championship in Edmonton from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.

The international curling teams didn't arrive in Canada by charter as the hockey players did, but flew commercially.

A negative test taken less than 72 hours before travelling to Calgary was required.

Upon arrival in Calgary, the athletes and team personnel began a week-long ``managed quarantine protocol'' with four separate tests taken during that span.

Fourteen teams, including 13 from other countries, started the men's world championship April 2.

The field was whittled down to six by the end of the preliminary round Friday afternoon.

Teams and coaches departing Canada would have been required to take another test before leaving the country.

A pair of Grand Slams, which are not Curling Canada events, are also planned for Calgary.

The Humpty's Championship Cup starts Wednesday followed April 20-25 by the Princess Auto Players' Championship.

Those tournaments feature Canadian and international men's and women's teams.

Teams have begun arriving in Calgary to undergo testing and quarantine.

The women's world curling championship, relocated from Switzerland to Calgary, follows April 30 to May 6 in Calgary.

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