Swimming and basketball ISSTs canceled due to fears of Coronavirus


Jonathan Novak and Michael Flaherty

Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak across the world, the swimming ISST tournament at the British School of the Brussels (BSB) and the boys basketball ISST tournament at ACS Athens International School, have been canceled. 

Director of Athletics and Chairman of the ISST organization John Farmer said that after February Break, he asked each participating member of the ISST organization to update him on their stance regarding the coronavirus.

Farmer said that he wanted to make sure the participating schools were taking the virus seriously, considering ASL is planning to host the Rugby 7s ISST tournament in March. 

After the initial contact, Farmer said he decided, as ISST chair, to request a clear stance from all member schools on their perspective on international travel by March 3. A decision made regarding all of the ISSTs would be made on March 5. 

After the plan was created, BSB announced they were going to cancel swimming ISSTs yesterday, Feb. 26 and pull out all of their students from competing in ISSTs, without dialogue with the ISST committee.

Farmer said that the decision “put things in immediate perspective” for ASL considering some trips were taking place where others weren’t.

Around two hours after BSB’s decision, ACS Athens pulled out of hosting the boys basketball ISST tournament and removed their other student-athletes from all other winter ISST tournaments. 

Farmer said that these cancellations led to more skepticism and unease.

“I have to send an email out to boys basketball and swimming, but inevitably that’s going to lead to more questions than answers,” he said. “People are going to start asking questions like ‘what about the other ISSTs? Are we still hosting our ISSTs? Is it safe to go to other places?”

To try and address this issue, Farmer said the heads of school from all schools participating in ISSTs are doing a group phone call to deliberate their plans and make a decision regarding all other ISST trips.

Depending on the outcome of the meeting, Farmer said he hopes to still have tournaments in a safe way, with teams that are still willing to compete. However, planning specifics for these won’t begin until all the schools have a clear plan of action.

For swimming, there is a possibility of ASL hosting a swimming gala March 12-13 and a basketball tournament could be hosted at a number of schools in London including ASL and ACS Cobham over the ISST dates.