Due to concerns about COVID-19, the 2020 Save-On-Foods Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival has been cancelled. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

COVID-19 concerns lead to cancellation of Nanaimo dragon boat festival

Next cancer research fundraiser anticipated to take place July 2021 in Nanaimo

With COVID-19 diagnoses increasing on Vancouver Island, organizers of Nanaimo’s dragon boat festival have cancelled the event for 2020.

The event was scheduled to take place July 10-12 at Maffeo Sutton Park, but in a letter, Heiko Behn, Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival society chairman, said the festival will not take place as it is thought the coronavirus won’t be contained by the time the event commences.

“The world is now gripped with an unforeseen and what appears to be an unprecedented virus outbreak – COVID-19 … We also recognize that social distancing will be impossible to achieve at our event,” Behn said in the letter. “We hope the cancellation will allow all paddlers to focus on being kind to others, maintaining a healthy lifestyle in accordance with directives, and reducing the impact of the economic downturn.”

RELATED: Over 400 COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths in B.C.

Teams have two options in relation to cancellation: registration fees can held over for the 2021 festival, with no penalties or price increases, or they can request a refund.

“We take this step with heavy hearts, but with clear minds,” Behn said. “We know the cancellation will have a severe effect on our fund-raising efforts for cancer, our loyal supporters including Save-On-Foods, the City of Nanaimo, and numerous other businesses. But the health of our dragon boat community must take precedence.”

The next festival is scheduled to take place from July 9-11, 2021.

In a COVID-19 update earlier this afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. health officer, said there are currently 37 cases of the virus on Vancouver Island.

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