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2021 Sin City Erg Cancelled

Posted by glrfcentral , 20 October 2020 · 843 views

It’s time.  We need to call it, and we’re not talking about the election.  The Gay + Lesbian Rowing Federation has come to the conclusion that the 2021 Sin City Erg must be canceled.  This decision was not taken lightly, and it is particularly difficult just as we were starting to create momentum for the Sin City Erg event.  2021 would have been our second year to run the competition and it is unique in that our erg competition, focused on lgbtq+ participation, includes men, women, and non-binary categories, and we offer both individual and team competition.  A team category allows clubs to compete amongst each other (in 2x and 4x) as well as providing an opportunity for teammates to support their LGBTQ+ club members by participating in their squad or team.

We do plan to host 2022 Sin City Erg in Las Vegas, United States on 16 January 2022, and we encourage anyone interested in learning more about the event to subscribe to our email list for updates and announcements.

Although there is a set of decision making protocols published by various national rowing federations for rowing competitions, our concerns about the 2021 event began to develop with the publication of an article on 02 April 2020 in Science Magazine, suggesting that the coronavirus spreads through the aerosolization of the virus.

As rowers, we all know how hard we’re breathing when doing a piece on the erg.  Then more news began to emerge about super spreader events at choral events where people are exhaling forcefully.  Over the next few months, the media and the focus of the coronavirus spread turned away from touching infected surfaces to wearing masks to avoid catching or spreading the virus.  The issue culminated with the American president, Donald Trump, contracting the virus, and no mention in any media article was made of him or anyone around him having contracted the virus from touching an infected surface or from touching their faces or eyes.  To us, it doesn’t seem like an indoor rowing event is well suited in the current Covid-19 environment.

Certainly, clubs do have outdoor erg sessions, even before the emergence of the coronavirus.  To safely host an outdoor rowing event, competitors would have to be spaced at least six feet apart, and given what we now know about the aerosolization of Covid-19, the ergs would have to be spread much further apart.  A recent article in MSN News published on 13 October 2020 does support the possibility of hosting an outdoor event.   However, an erg competition requires that all the rowing machines be wired together and to a computer.  There is a minimum distance from the computer to the first rowing machine and also between the machines.

The competitive fervor of the event comes from the close side-by-side proximity of the competitors as well as the visual display of progress of the competitors in a racetrack-like display projected on a screen.  It is difficult to project the race display indoors and to try to display the video outdoors would be extremely challenging.

If an outdoor rowing event is pursued, then there is the weather, either too hot or perhaps too rainy, which in both cases is probable in Las Vegas in January.  Finally, there is the issue of masks which seem antithetical to rowing fast on an erg, and even if we could hold an event with masks, the burden of ensuring everyone, spectator and competitor, is wearing a mask [properly, over nose and mouth] makes the event extremely challenging, potentially a liability for GLRF, and turns the event from enthusiasm into unpleasant enforcement.

We held out hope that perhaps a vaccine would emerge that would allow the Sin City Erg to proceed but three media articles spread really cold water on that arousing hope: We also have subscriptions to daily email updates from the New York Times Coronavirus Briefing and the Los Angeles Times Coronavirus Today.  The news in the past few weeks has been extremely discouraging as the rate of new infections has risen at an alarming rate.  Two recent media articles about the rise of the infections helped cement our decision to cancel: Finally, we found this Motley Fool article dated 06 October 2020 that paints a bleak picture of how Clark County and the City of Las Vegas are embracing a virus-safe environment.

All of these factors point to the possibility of infections among spectators, volunteers, and participants.  For us, even one infection is too many.

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