This has been a very testing and challenging year for orienteering in the UK and for life generally. At this stage it is not possible to say with any certainty whether the 2021 event in Lochaber will take place or, if it can, what restrictions may need to be in place to comply with Scottish Government guidelines. With regard to the main officials for the event, Terry O’Brien was originally appointed as the Coordinator but, sadly, has had to step down for family reasons. Ross Lilley and Richard Oxlade, as Day Coordinator and Technical Coordinator respectively, have taken on overall responsibility for the event following Terry’s resignation.
It proved difficult to locate six suitable locations for the event but most of the areas and the corresponding car parking arrangements have now been identified. It is of course possible that even if, in theory, the event can take place that some landowners or local communities may not wish to have large numbers of orienteers in their area. It is also a possibility that last minute restrictions may cause an area or areas to become unusable.
While the 6-Day Board are committed to hold an event if at all practicable, mitigations have been put in place to minimise the risks to the Company. The event organisers are committing to expenditure as late as possible and are reducing costs where feasible, though without compromising the high standard of the event. Some of the ‘nice to have’ but not essential add-ons have been scaled down or will not be offered and the budget has been set assuming a lower level of entry compared to previous years.
Even if an event cannot take place in 2021, it is hoped that the work put in will not go to waste by using the area for the 6-Day event in 2023. While it is very much hoped that this will not be necessary, the Board are looking at all options needed to protect the finances of the Company while maintaining the quality of the ongoing series of events.
One of the other changes that has been forced on the Company as a result of Covid-19 is the date of the sprint World Orienteering Championships which was due to take place in Edinburgh in 2022. The equivalent event in 2020 was due to be hosted by Denmark but, because of the pandemic, this event has been postponed and will now take place in 2022. As a consequence, at the request of the International Orienteering Federation, the Edinburgh event has been moved to 2024.
Our partners in the hosting of the event, EventScotland and the City of Edinburgh, have reconfirmed their financial support for which the Board are very grateful. The Event Director, Paul McGreal, has agreed to continue in that role and it is hoped that most of the Organising Committee will also stay in post. The Board, through the Event Director, are looking at ways of recouping the irrecoverable costs resulting from the postponement.
There have been no changes to the Board this year and I would like to thank the Directors and co-opted members for their work and support during this difficult period. I am very grateful for their continued commitment to the Company. The Central Organising Team for Lochaber 2021 have already put in a huge amount of work, more than is normally the case for a 6-Day event at this stage and it is only through the work of volunteers such as these that the 6-Day events can take place. I would also like to thank the Events Officer of the Scottish Orienteering Association, Colin Matheson, for his valuable and continuing contribution to the 6-Day Company.
Finally, I hope that we can find a way out of current circumstances and that competitive orienteering can take place again in the not too distant future.