(Reuters) - The 2021 women's world curling championship will now be held in Canada, the World Curling Federation said on Friday after plans to hold the Olympic qualification event in Switzerland were scrapped last month because of COVID-19 concerns.
The April 30-May 9 championship, a 14-team event that will offer six berths to the 2022 Beijing Olympics, will be played in Calgary in a so-called bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from COVID-19.
The 10-day event was originally set to begin in two weeks in Schaffhausen but was cancelled after Swiss health authorities did not grant permission for it to proceed due to the pandemic situation and concerns around the spread of new variants.
The initial cancellation of the event created uncertainty for the qualification process ahead of the Beijing Olympics but Calgary, which is in the midst of hosting a number of bonspiels inside the bubble, proved a viable solution.
"We are extremely grateful to Curling Canada and all our stakeholders for their willingness to work together, and at such short notice, to ensure that qualification for Beijing 2022 happens on the ice and in competition," World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness said in a news release.
The championship will consist of hosts Canada, defending champion Switzerland, the United States, Scotland, Sweden, Italy, Estonia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
Last year's women's world curling championship was scheduled to be held in British Columbia but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)