The leg from the second last to the last control at Kooyoora last Saturday was a reminder of all that is good about our sport; running across an open slope between the rocks high on a hill, with views over an expanse of forest, boulders and rock slabs.
A few weeks ago, many of us were looking forward to Easter, to a new season and to the events ahead, national and international. All of that has come to a stop for now, for a period of time as yet unknown (and that uncertainly makes things all the more challenging), as we’ve reached the point where OA has had to recommend to states that all organised events be suspended. I remain hopeful that things will improve enough for at least local events to be possible in the second half of the year. (As I write, individual exercise in parks and forests is still being encouraged, and hopefully that will continue to be the case, as it has been in countries such as Norway).
I have confidence that, as a sport, we will emerge from this on the other side, battered but still standing. Orienteering Australia and the State Associations are in strong financial positions and have the reserves to withstand an extended shutdown, which is something which many other sports are not in a position to do. (Long at the back of our minds is that those of us who remembered the British foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of the early 2000s knew that a lengthy shutdown was something we had to consider in our risk planning). OA will also be working closely with states to ensure that the inevitable costs of the next few months are shared as equitably as possible.
One of our great strengths as a sport is the closeness of our community. Many in our community will face challenges over the coming months, whether that is with their own health or that of someone close to them, the loss of a job, or simply the issues which come with being a lot more isolated than most of us are used to being. In these times I have every confidence that we will be able to pull together and help those who need it (and who probably won’t ask for it).
On the more administrative front, the OA Annual General Meeting will now take place as a teleconference in the week after Easter (exact details are still being finalised), with only the essential legal requirements being dealt with and other matters being deferred to (probably) the Annual Conference. In the circumstances, I will no longer stand down at the AGM and will stay on until the situation is resolved.
There will be a day some months from now – hopefully not too many from now – when we can get back out into the bush, or onto the streets and parks, again. When that happens I hope that all of you get the chance to experience moments like those of last weekend at Kooyoora. In the meantime, I wish all of you the best for the many challenges which lie ahead.
Blair Trewin, President