The International Swimming League (ISL) released a statement this morning on the state of the new league amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishin says the league is “working hard to ensure the ISL 2020/21 season goes ahead as planned, however, any decisions about staging events in the future will be based on the health & safety of the athletes and the supporters who come to the stadiums to watch them.”
Grigorishin adds that he understands athletes have had their training for the Olympics disrupted. Therefore, the ISL says that, “out of respect for them we will make any necessary adjustments to the ISL season should a postponement of Tokyo 2020 take place.” Ostensibly, this means that the ISL is willing to push back its September start date for the 2020-2021 season. We don’t have any details yet on whether these “adjustments” would include simply pushing the start date back, or condensing the season itself, and it will likely depend on if/when the 2020 Olympics are postponed to.
This move by the ISL is a significant one, as calls by athletes and national sports federations alike to postpone the 2020 Olympics are growing rapidly. Roughly 100 swimmers competed in the ISL’s first season last Fall, and the league has since added 2 more teams. As it stands right now, we can expect around 150 swimmers to compete in the upcoming season of the ISL.
The League is currently set to begin its second season this September. In its first season last Fall, the ISL consisted of 4 teams based in Europe, and 4 based in the United States. Since the conclusion of the first season, the ISL has announced the addition of a Tokyo-based team, and a Toronto-based team.
The season will also see a ramped-up schedule of 27 meets that is currently planned to run into the spring, rather than the 7 meet season of year 1. This increases the logistical challenges of making room in the league schedule for the Olympics given that pushing the season any later would begin to run into athletes’ national championship meets.