To the Shock of Beach MNT, 2023 ANOC World Beach Games Cancelled
by Matthew Collins
With just over a month until the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games was scheduled to begin in Bali, Indonesia, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) announced on July 4th that this year's edition of the Games have been cancelled.
The United States' Men's Beach National Team was slated to compete in the competition, having also taken part in the most recent edition of the Games in Doha, Qatar in 2019, as the 2021 edition was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The USA finished 11th in the Final Rankings at the 2019 tournament.
The Games anticipated bringing in over 1,000 athletes from more than 100 nations to contend for medals in sports that are not currently offered in the Olympic program, such as beach handball.
The news of the Games' cancellation came to a shock for both athletes and coaches for the US, given their excitement after having a productive training camp mere weeks ago in preparation for their journey to Asia for the tournament.
When asked about the news, coming on the 4th of July holiday no less, Beach Men's National Team Head Coach Michael Hinson said, "The news is obviously devastating. The players and staff have been putting in the grind and were excited at the opportunity to show off that work."
"We’re all obviously very disappointed in the news of the cancellation of the WBG in Bali," Beach National Team Captain Drew Donlin added. "We had this circled on our calendars for over a year and the team was feeling very prepared and excited."
Beach Handball is to remain a core sport on the ANOC program until at least 2025, according to an agreement between ANOC and the International Handball Federation (IHF) after the inclusion of the sport in the 2019 edition of the Games was deemed a success.
Unable to dwell on the cancellation, Donlin said, "The only thing we can do now is get back to training and look forward to upcoming competitions at the end of this year. 2024 will be also be a big year for our program, We’ll be back.”
"We take one step backwards, but now need to find a way to go 2 steps forward," Hinson noted. "Really great events for the national team on the close horizon with Puerto Rico tournament in September, NORCA next spring, World Championships next year, the París 2024 exhibition and World Games coming quickly in China in 2025. When you have a great product like beach handball it is only a matter of time until it explodes on the world stage!"
The officical annoucnement from the Assocation of National Olympic Committees can be found here.