Disappointment but understandable news for the 3,155 competitors from 51 nations who were about to pack their bags to travel to the lovely seaside city of Braga on Portugal’s Atlantic coast for the biennial European Masters Athletics Indoor Championships being staged there from 15-21 March, this time there was some hesitation. Italy, with 206 athletes entered, is in lock-down due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the North of that country. Britain with the largest entry – 347, plus spectators, is another country whose Government is now making preparations for a possible pandemic. Spain, Portugal’s next door neighbour has reported an outbreak of the virus as well as several other European countries.
It was therefore expected that for the first time since its inauguration in Sindlefingen in 2004, this popular event that is also opened to non-European competitors, would have to be postponed or cancelled. Unfortunately some athletes may suffer an inevitable financial loss. Non-European entries had been received from as far away as India, Chile, USA, Jamaica and one from Togo.
On Wednesday 4 March, a joint statement from Braga City Hall Vice President, Ministry of Health and EMA President Kurt Kaschke was issued announcing the postponement of the Championships until 10-17 January 2021.