Scandinavian Swimming Shutdown: Danish Open, Olympic Trials, Swim Open Stockholm Off; Pools Shut & Norway Bans All Sport Events In Coronavirus Lockdown

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Scandinavia shut down swimming today as part of coronavirus (COVID-19) containment measures.  The Danish Open, which doubles as Denmark’s Olympic Swimming Trials, and the Swim Open in Stockholm have been cancelled, while Norway’s Government announced a nationwide lockdown similar to Italy’s in which sports events are banned with immediate effect and sports training centres will be closed as of this evening.

In a dramatic flood of news from three of four Scandinavian countries, the closure of all swimming pools and swim club activities in Denmark and shutdowns in Norway due to the coronavirus pandemic reinforced the message coming out of Italy that Olympic preparations are taking a hit big enough to make Tokyo 2020 organisers and the International Olympic Committee to think again as the risks grew of the big event scheduled for Japan in July and August going down as “the Games Among Those Who Could Show Up Fit”.

The news follows cancellations of Olympic trials in China and Italy and, as of yesterday, South African Championships, due to have taken place April 17-22 in Durban, are postponed until further notice.

Scandinavia has several big hitters preparing for Tokyo 2020 as podium and title contenders. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom is on course to defend the 100m butterfly crown she won in Rio four years ago to become her nationals first Olympic swimming champion among women, while Denmark’s Pernille Blume is preparing to defend the 50m freestyle title she claimed in Rio as her country’s first winner of the dash. In Norway, Henrik Christiansen is among podium contenders in the inaugural 800m freestyle for men and the 1500m.

The fourth Scandinavian nation, Finland, is also looking at more aggressive lockdown measures after the coronavirus count grew from by 25 to 65 injustice one day. Prime Minister Sanna Marin urged members of the public to avoid unnecessary travel and re-consider their plans to hold large events.

Meanwhile, Denmark, home to Pernille Blume, the Olympic 50m freestyle champion.  is in lockdown, with kindergartens and schools and sports facilities, including swimming pools, out of bounds. The Danish Open was the primary selection meet for Danes, while the Swim Open in Stockholm, Sweden, was to have been the secondary qualification meet on April 3-6, but that, too, was called off today.

In a move that effectively shut down swimming in Denmark, the Danish National Training Center (NTC) today sent its swimmers home an d has urged swim clubs across the country to do the same.

After Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced nationwide lockdown measures, the leadership of the Danish Swimming Union caulked a halt to all work at the NTC. Director of the Danish Swimming Union Lars Green Bach said:

“We take the Prime Minister’s call and recommendation very seriously, and we have therefore chosen that the NTC swimmers and the coaching staff around the team do not gather in the coming period.”

He urged all swim clubs to do the same for the next two weeks, or 14 days, during the containment period.

Updates will appear on the  Danish Swimming Federation website (in Danish).

Taking Precautions In Water

NB: Yesterday, the CDC issued guidance on the relationship between coronavirus and water at a time when there is concern about the potential transmission of the virus in water among many in the swimming community. Swimming World is awaiting answers to questions from busy experts and will bring those to you as soon as possible

Meanwhile, a Swimming World reader, Gene Andres, a biometry and chemical engineering graduate with knowledge of pool chemistry and biostatistics, noted in comments on the site:

” … pool water typically has 1 to 3 ppm of chlorine, whereas tap water has 4 ppm (EPA standard). So the disinfecting power of pool water is significantly less (33% to 300%) than tap water at the same temperature. It would appear that the chlorine in pool water does not kill coronavirus on contact. Rather, it would appear to linger in an active state for on the order of 10 days, so other swimmers could be infected by it.”

Norway’s Lockdown

Norway has gone the same way as Denmark, announcing this lunchtime in Europe a comprehensive lockdown of the country, as a crisis response to coronavirus. Kindergartens, schools, gyms, bars, restaurants – and sports training centres – will be closed as of this evening. Major cultural and sporting events are banned with immediate effect.

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Henrik Christiansen, on the podium at the 2019 World Championships in Gawngju – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced in a live public broadcast:

“We are in a difficult time for Norway and for the world. Norway is being put to a big test as a society and we all, as individuals. In this period before us, everyone will have a different everyday life. The drastic measures we are now taking are in the hope of stopping the coronavirus.”

The Danish Swimming Federation is now in touch with FINA, the international federation that announced a swathe of cancellations and postponements today, to discuss how its swimmers might qualify for the Olympic Games should the event survive the pandemic this year. The Danish body stated:

‘We understand that this raises many thoughts and concerns, and must emphasize that we are in close contact with both FINA, the Danish Olympic Committee (DIF) and Team Danmark to give Danish swimmers the opportunity to qualify for the international championships this season – not least the Olympics’

Sweden has reported around 500 cases of the novel coronavirus, and recorded the first death in Scandinavia. As Nordic gym chain SATS announced that it is closing all its clubs as a precautionary measure, effective from lunchtime today, Stockholm health authorities announced that only elderly people and patients in hospital will be tested for the coronavirus from now on. Other people who experience symptoms are instead directed to national health line 1177 and are urged to stay at home, not go to work, and limit social contact.

That heightened awareness contributed to the cancellation of the Swim Cup, Stockholm.

Dennis Fredriksson, the manager of the Swim Open Stockholm/Nordic Swim Tour at the Sweden Swimming Federation, sent out the following cancellation note to the swimming community today:

Dear Friends,

Given the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading throughout the world and the new guidelines given by the swedish government and Public Health Agency, the Swedish Swimming Federation have decided to cancel  this year´s edition of Malmsten Swim Open Stockholm.
 We are of course very sorry for this decision, this Olympic year was in all ways going to be something extra, both for your teams, all spectators and tv-viewers, but also for us in the Swim Open Organization team. We were all excited for some awsome days in Stockholm together. But we will have another go next year, on the 8-11 of April 2021 – Save the date!
Refunds for accommodations
In this situation, we are very fortunate to be able to work with such great accomodation partners in Clarion Hotel and Quality Globe Hotel. They have shown us and you as guests, big understanding given the situation, and we are happy to say that they  will be able to refund 50% of all your costs for accomodation. We will start the work next week and will contact you regarding a refund of the Swim Open accomodation package.
 Don´t hesitate contact me if you have any further questions.
 See you all next year – we already looking forward for the awesome event with you all!

Meanwhile, in Britain, “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time”

The United Kingdom has not yet triggered any lockdown measures, as yet, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson “levelled” with the nation today, saying that “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time”. Strategy was to “delay” because the National Health Service might not be able to cope otherwise.

Although some sports events have been postponed, British Swimming issued the following tweets to confirm that Olympic swimming trials were still on on London next month, as things stand, and that expert advice was still being sought as to whether the London leg of the FINA Diving World Series could be staged:

Few expect that the lack of blanket bans on large gatherings, including sports events, in Britain will last.

Experts advising the UK Government said that Britain was around four weeks behind the trajectory Italy climbed on the way to emergency lockdown. The British policy was to delay starker measures in containment phase until spring weather helped to bring relief to a heath service expecting to be under enormous pressure from the coronavirus spread.

Johnson said he wished to “level” with the nation and believed that “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time”. Sports events did not of themselves risk spreading the virus more rapidly but the Governments and its advisers were looking at the impact of such things on public and medical services at a time when resources and attention were needed elsewhere.

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4 comments

  1. Nicolas Messer

    Yes, nothing allowed until March 29 and further notice in Norway. Had to inform and send the athletes home this afternoon. Athletes who left the country and came back after Feb 27, all have to go into a two week “quarantine”, meaning that even with changes in the conditions (training for some athletes allowed again), they are banned and not allowed in any activity. Stay healthy everybody!

  2. Charlene Tallen

    My daughter was scheduled to leave for Stockholm on March 19th. Not anymore. Get well all and stay safe all our Swedish friends 🇸🇪
    Did you know this Anna Bergengren?

    • Anna Bergengren

      It seems like everything is shutting down at the moment. Many sportsevents, theaters, shows… You name it. They now focus om hospitals and people in the riskgroup. We’ll just have to wail and see how this turnes out.

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