The All Native Basketball Tournament, scheduled for Feb. 7 to 13 in Prince Rupert, B.C., has been cancelled for the first time in its 61-year history because of COVID-19 concerns.
Established in 1960, the sporting event sees dozens of men’s and women’s teams from across British Columbia and parts of Alaska compete for a week every year in the North Coast community.
Tournament chair Peter Haugan said he and his fellow committee members made the decision on Dec. 17 to call off the competition, knowing the pandemic situation is unlikely to improve significantly in the intervening months.
“That’s disappointing,” Haugan said. “We always wanted to be able to host the event, but the numbers [of COVID cases] and everything else [mean] that you’re not going to be allowed to be playing right now.”
Because of the coronavirus, many gyms in Prince Rupert and its outlying communities have been closed, and no spaces are available for athletes to practise.
Haugan said no tickets have been sold and no venue was booked for the cancelled event, so no losses have been incurred for the organizers.
Despite sponsorship from various sources, he said the tournament will still need $36,000 to make the 2022 event possible.
“We have to get creative and try to figure out how to get some money,” Haugan said.
The All Native Basketball Tournament has been held at Prince Rupert Civic Centre every year for five decades.