Canada skip Kerri Einarson lines up a shot against Switzerland at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 1, 2021. Tournament officials say multiple broadcasters have tested positive for COVID-19 at the LGT World Women's Curling Championship in Calgary. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Games postponed at world women’s curling following positive COVID-19 tests

CALGARY — Play resumed at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship without television coverage on Sunday afternoon after four members of the event’s broadcast staff tested positive for COVID-19.

The individuals are isolating in their hotel while additional testing and contact tracing takes place, the World Curling Federation said in a statement.

The staffers are staying in a different hotel than athletes and competition officials, who were cleared to return after a deep clean of the WinSport Arena on Sunday morning, which forced the postponement of the seventh round-robin draw.

In an email to The Canadian Press late Sunday afternoon, WCF media head Christopher Hamilton confirmed that there were four positive cases. No names or additional details were provided.

The WCF said that all scheduled testing for athletes and competition officials returned negative results. The start of the afternoon draw was pushed back a half hour to a 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time start and the evening draw was bumped 30 minutes later to a 9:30 p.m. ET start.

Canada’s Kerri Einarson faced Tabitha Peterson of the United States in the afternoon session. Einarson was not scheduled to play in the night draw.

Television feeds of the event were cancelled through Tuesday morning. The competition is part of TSN’s Season of Champions coverage and is broadcast internationally by World Curling TV.

“Thanks for the good wishes,” TSN broadcaster Vic Rauter said on Twitter. “We are quarantined, tested, cared for, hope to be back Tuesday, take care of yourselves and each other.”

Earlier in the week, organizers cancelled the opening practice sessions after two members of the German team tested positive for COVID-19 in pre-tournament screening upon arrival in Calgary.

Practice sessions were eventually held Thursday on the eve of round-robin play. The German team was given an exemption to compete as a three-player team while players who tested positive remained in isolation.

This year’s women’s championship, which was relocated from Switzerland because of the pandemic, is the seventh and final curling event to be held in Calgary without spectators in a controlled environment to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Canadian women’s, men’s and mixed doubles championships were followed by the men’s world championship and a pair of Grand Slam events.

The men’s world championship playoffs were interrupted by four participants testing positive for the coronavirus. The championship was completed April 11, however, with the WCF stating the cases were “false positives.”

Those affected tested negative in subsequent screenings.

Teams are confined to the arena and the tournament hotel across the Trans-Canada Highway. They drive themselves back and forth and masks are mandatory once athletes step off the field of play.

Organizers were exploring options to incorporate the postponed seventh draw of the women’s round-robin into the upcoming schedule, the WCF said.

Playoff games are set to begin Friday night. The medal games are scheduled for May 9.

Einarson and her Manitoba-based teammates stumbled out of the gate with three losses in their first four games. Canada, expected to be a contender, was 11th in the 14-team field entering the afternoon draw.

Jennifer Jones was the last Canadian skip to win this event, taking gold in 2018 at North Bay, Ont. Chelsea Carey skipped the Canadian entry in 2019 at Silkeborg, Denmark, but did not make the playoffs.

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