Plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock are being delayed a year because of COVID-19.
Danny Braun, president of the organizing committee, said the decision to cancel the event scheduled for February 2021 was the responsible thing to do.
"We felt we had to make a decision by now because of travel and what not," Braun said Tuesday.
Team registrations were set to begin Tuesday. Although that bought organizers some time to see what would happen over the summer, they knew a decision had to made, Braun said.
"At the end of the day, with COVID-19 lingering around still, obviously, rules and regulations as they pertain with travel would make it very difficult for anyone outside the Atlantic bubble at this point to come into the event in February."
It wasn't the organizers' intentions 20 years ago when they named the tournament the World Pond Hockey Championship, but the popularity of the event has grownrewn to include teams travelling from around the world to play on Roulston Lake.
Even if they could fill the 120-team limit with teams from Atlantic Canada — which he's sure they can based on requests they get each year — COVID-19 restrictions would still prevent the event from going ahead.
"Our municipality is not permitted within the guidelines right now to rent out public facilities that we use in the manner that we use them."
He cited the limits of 50 people with social distancing inside buildings and players' tents, among other restrictions during this phase of recovery from the pandemic shutdown.
The next championship will now be played Feb. 17 to Feb. 20, 2022.
Braun said the committee will use the additional time to make the 20th anniversary bigger and better.
"It just didn't make sense to try and pull it off in a manner that was less than what it has become."
The tournament remains a fundraising activity for the community and the money raised now is used to help run the facilities and programs the event helped build. The organization remains in good financial shape, its weekly 50/50 draw supports the local fire department, and other things will continue.
"It's an unfortunate situation, but none the less we believe it's the responsible thing to do."