World Surf League Has Scrapped Its 2021 Bells Beach and Gold Coast Events in Favour of NSW
This year's WSL Championship Tour will head to Newcastle and Narrabeen instead, as well as Margaret River and Rottnest Island in Western Australia.
In 2020, the pandemic forced international sport come to a halt for months, Australian football seasons to be played in condensed blocks and the AFL Grand Final to be held in Brisbane for the first time ever. In 2021 so far, it has also seen parts of the Australian Open played without spectators. Now, COVID-19 is affecting the Aussie leg of this year's World Surf League Championship Tour, too, with the WSL announcing that it's making some big changes to its upcoming stint Down Under.
Usually, WSL's annual Australian events include high profile stops in Bells Beach and on the Gold Coast, but they've both been cancelled in 2021. Instead the sporting body will head to New South Wales, and over to Western Australia for two events as well.
From April 1–11, the Rip Curl Cup will take over Newcastle's beaches, while the Rip Curl Classic will hit Narrabeen in Sydney's northern beaches from April 16–26. Then, Margaret River will become the centre of the surfing world from May 2–12, before the tour will head over to Rottnest Island from May 16–26.
Announcing the change, WSL advised that it would concentrate on NSW and WA this year "following approvals for pre-approved quarantine bubbles" for surfers and staff. In a statement, it explained that it "could not achieve these bubbles in Victoria and Queensland in the short amount of time it needed to do so".
Victorian surf fans — and anyone who has memorised the final Bells Beach-set scene from Point Break — can rest assured that WSL will be returning to town from 2022. Earlier this month, it announced that it had signed a deal for a three-year stint in the Surf Coast Shire until 2024.
Regarding the Gold Coast event, its future hasn't been revealed; however, WSL advised that the decision to "cancel this event was based on the genuine possibility of multiple risks attached to sudden public health measures in reaction to COVID-19 such as lockdowns, state border restrictions and event cancellations".
Under an agreement with the NSW Government, international competitors heading Down Under for the Australian leg of the 2021 World Surf League Championship Tour will board a chartered flight in Los Angeles that'll fly to Sydney, which is where all traveling athletes and support staff will then undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine. They'll also need to obtain a medical clearance from public health officials before they can enter the general community and start preparing for competition events.
The Australian leg of the 2021 World Surf League Championship Tour will head to Newcastle and Narrabeen, plus Margaret River and Rottnest Island in Western Australia, between April 1–May 26. For further details, head to the World Surf League website.
Published on February 16, 2021 by Sarah Ward