Thursday, April 09, 2009

No alcohol for Juniors

It's not an April Fool spoof. It is deadly serious. The decision to ban junior curlers from drinking at major events has been taken by the World Curling Federation at its Annual General Assembly which took place on April 8 in Moncton.

A motion was passed to implement a ban on all alcohol consumption at WCF junior championship events, ie the World Junior Curling Championships (WJCC), the Pacific Junior Curling Championships (PJCC) and the European Junior Curling Challenge (EJCC).

Why?

Apparently the final straw precipitating the action was what occurred at the recent World Junior Championships in Vancouver. A fire alarm was set off at 5:30 am in the hotel where the teams were staying and among those who had to abandon the hotel were two elderly ladies who were in the hotel overnight waiting to go into the hospital (opposite the hotel) the next day. They each had to walk down fourteen floors and to wait outside for the fire tenders to arrive. Not to mention the other guests who were inconvenienced.

The hotel is seeking reimbursement of costs incurred because of the shenanigans, and national associations are to be billed. Thirteen countries had representatives at one or both the men's and women's competitions, and eight of these have been said to have been involved. Was Scotland? Conflicting reports have come my way, so we have to await to hear if the Royal Club receives a bill.

The WCF has agreed that all future Junior events will be alcohol-free and that any offenders to this rule will be removed from the field of play and their accommodation. It will be up to that offender's home organisation to look after them at that point and carry out the necessary discipline.

With widespread concern about binge drinking amongst the young, this is a bold step by curling's world governing body, and has to be applauded. Mind you, for the country where the game has traditionally gone hand in hand with a dram, and where the National Championships both have an alcohol related sponsor, these dramatic measures are sure to be controversial. Will the Royal Club implement an alcohol ban at the Scottish Junior Championships?

Other decisions at the Annual Assembly will be found on the WCF website. I look forward to discussing them here in due course. For example, I had to get the atlas out (actually I used Google maps) to find Chelyabinsk!

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