All winter ISST tournaments have been canceled following concerns surrounding the recent COVID-19 outbreak. On Feb 26, it was announced that varsity swimming and varsity boys basketball ISSTs were to be canceled. Yesterday at 4 p.m., it was announced that the Varsity girls basketball and Varsity rugby tournaments would also be canceled.
The decision was made by the ISST organization, which consists of the heads of all ISST member schools. The organization held a conference call and concluded that, given the severity of the ongoing situation, it was necessary to cancel all tournaments.
In an email sent to all ISST team members, Athletics Director John Farmer wrote, “this decision was based on a risk assessment of the conditions created by the COVID-19 virus, including concerns about the complexities of travel and housing, and the recognition of the need to be consistent in decision-making across our schools.”
Head of School Robin Appleby said that the school was in favor of the cancellations and cited safety concerns given the extensive traveling that would have taken place.
“You are putting a lot of people potentially at risk and increasing their anxiety,” she said. “We joined with all of the other ISST schools and decided that unfortunately for the winter season we would have to make this decision.”
Since rugby ISSTs were set to be hosted at ASL, Appleby said that having the tournament raised concerns as it brought in schools from ISSTs teams around Europe. Additionally, she said that homestays, when athletes are housed by host families, could have placed more members of the community at risk.
“How do we know what other protocols are in place at other schools for students who might stay with families here?” she said. “Maybe our families don’t feel comfortable with that.”
Although Varsity girls basketball captain Natalie Vann (’20) said she understands why ISSTs were canceled and feels as though it was the appropriate choice, she still found the decision “really upsetting.”
“It’s my senior year, and it’s sad to think that this is the end of my basketball ISST career,” she said.
However, Vann said the cancellation served as a reminder that the whole basketball season wasn’t solely based on the tournament.
“Our team is more than just our ISST results,” she said.
A plan is now in place to have local tournaments during the ISST weekend of March 12-14 to make up for the cancellations. These tournaments would include solely U.K. based schools and wouldn’t require overnight stays or travel.
Vann said that she hopes an alternative tournament will take place as otherwise varsity girls basketball will only have two more games.
“However I’m really proud of our team and even if there’s no plan B that ends up happening I’ll still be satisfied with our season,” she said.
In his email, Farmer expressed his disappointment in the cancellations and stressed that the decision was not made “lightly.”
“I know we all feel sadness that our student athletes and coaches will not get to take part in this season’s ISST winter championships,” he wrote.
Spring ISSTs are still scheduled to take place in May and Farmer said that he is “hopeful” these will still occur.
“While this situation is far from ideal, I know we’ll all do our best to keep our winter teams’ spirits high and to put on great events in the spring season,” he wrote.
Features Editor: Online Helen Roth contributed to reporting.