20 May 2020

Gordon Bennett Cup 2020 postponed to 2021

The 64th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2020 has been postponed to 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race, also known as the FAI World Long Distance Gas Balloon Championship, was originally due to be launched from Wroclaw, Poland and to take place from 27 August to 4 September 2020. It will now take place in 2021, in Poland, with dates to be determined.

Given that the 2021 edition had already been awarded to Switzerland, a solution needed to be found between the two organisers. The matter was quickly resolved, with the Swiss organisers readily accommodating the situation and graciously agreeing to host the race in 2022.

The formal decision was taken unanimously by the Polish and Swiss organisers, the FAI Ballooning Commission (CIA) and FAI.

The Event’s General Manager Arkadiusz Iwański said: “We are extremely grateful for your patience and support. The journey doesn't end and we are now focusing on organising an excellent race next year in Wroclaw. We are already working with the Organisation site, CIA and FAI. We will come back to you, no later than by the end of September 2020 in order to give you more details.”

The Aeroklub of Poland, host country of the Polish edition, addressed an official letter to FAI, which was forwarded to everyone involved in the race. It explained the decision, mentioning that at the “current stage it is impossible to foresee the ways the epidemic will develop which means risking eventual cancellation of the championship at the last moment.

“Distancing of spectators during the launch day at the public location is impossible. This most prestigious and international event requires a lot of global logistics, time for preparation, promotion, communication and joint work between a lot of involved parties. The current situation and unknown near future make it impossible to organise the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett this year.”

The 64th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett had been awarded to Poland after the victory of Mateusz Rekas and Jacek Bogadanski in 2018, following the rule that states that the winning team organise the race in their own country two years after their victory. In 2019, Swiss pilots Laurent Sciboz and Nicolas Tièche came first, and were tasked with the organisation of the 2021 competition (now re-scheduled to 2022).

Unfortunately for Poland, it is the third time that their plans for the organisation of the Coupe have been upset: in 1939 due the outbreak of Word War II; in 1983, due to the Iron Curtain; and now in 2020, due to COVID-19. On the bright side, this year’s race could be postponed, rather than cancelled. Furthermore, although the wait might seem long, the 2021 race will feel even more special for all those who follow this exceptional and prestigious event.

Photo credit: Marcus King