COVID-19 and Roller Derby

It's hard not to be aware of the effect that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is causing on all human activity, globally, and Roller Derby is not exempt. COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, is stretching the health services of several nations. In order to control its spread, an increasing number of internal and external travel and gathering restrictions are being applied.

In Italy and China, where all non-essential gatherings are currently banned, Roller Derby has stopped along with everything else. The Chinese leagues have not been able to practice since the lockdown in their country in February (with restrictions now slowly being lifted); in Italy since the increasingly escalating actions in the last week or two.

An increasing number of tournaments are now beginning to cancel. In Italy, the Anguanas' March and April Sanctioned triple-headers have been cancelled; but even in countries with less internal restrictions, there are cancellations. Copenhagen Ladybugs have had to cancel their upcoming Sevens extravaganza due to the Danish advice, for example; and there are a host of cancellations across the continental USA, despite their government's lacklustre response to ongoing events.

We are yet to see changes to the status of the Men's Roller Derby World Cup or Rollercon, both highly-international events this year, but given the breaking news restrictions placed by the US President on travel from Schengen countries in Europe, it seems increasingly likely that there will be some knock-on effect. (They are both scheduled far enough in the future that it is possible that we could have a pandemic peak before they happen; but once an infectious disease goes pandemic, it becomes much harder to eradicate quickly.) [Edited after initial publication to note: MRDWC have announced that they will be following all local and international advice; but this has not yet resulted in an actual change to their schedule.]

The WFTDA has published risk-management guidelines for reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections if you do hold public games during this period. They essentially reduce to the usual advice that minimising physical contact, and maintaining proper hygiene standards is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus, along with recommendations to cancel non-essential events and follow your country's own guidelines and restrictions. (As with other examples of force majeure, WFTDA will not penalise members for cancelling Sanctioned events due to public health concerns around COVID-19.)

We're hoping to chat to some of the most affected regions and at least help keep their Roller Derby in the public eye a bit, even if they can't play...

...but if you want to help track all the effects on Roller Derby (or just see the results of this), we're linking to Axis of Stevil's public Google Doc for this purpose. Stevil is part of WFTDA's "COVID19 Taskforce", who are working in managing the response to the pandemic and its medical and political effects relating to the sport and its participants.