USA Weightlifting hosts the first ever hybrid international sports competition

USA Weightlifting has become the first governing body to successfully host a hybrid international sports competition.

The four-day North American Open Series 1 event featured almost 1000 competitors, with nearly 400 athletes opting to lift "in person" in Salt Lake City, Utah, and another 600 competing virtually.

It is the first weightlifting event to take place in 2021 after a series of cancellations and postponements after the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews commented: "It’s great to see the athletes and coaches back in action after a prolonged absence due to the pandemic.

"We made the decision back in December to run this as a hybrid event without spectators and I believe that we’ve shown that it can be done.

"The initial survey feedback shows that the event was well received by everyone involved and I anticipate that hybrid events will become a key part of the weightlifting calendar moving forward."

The online aspect of the competition meant that athletes from as far as Hawaii could compete, something that helped to vastly reduce their costs.

Athletes that competed in Salt Lake City had to undergo a Covid-19 test before arriving and other necessary measures were in place including the use of face masks and socially distanced guidelines.

Strict doping control protocols were also in place both at the venue and at athletes' remote locations.

Referees were also able to perform their duties both in person and online, something that Andrews believes could make it easier to recruit officials in future.

"For a country as geographically huge as the United States, events like this will allow us to recruit a larger number of Technical Officials," he commented.

"This event has been incredibly useful in determining our approach for the rest of 2021 and beyond, and we will use our experiences to shape our future decisions."

The next North American Open Series event is due to take place in Calgary, Canada, in September 2021.

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