Dear MBK Member and Victorian Kendo Community.
Over the last several months the coronavirus has been spreading across the world. Countries and organisations have been taking measures to contain and minimise it’s spread. In some cases the measures have been minimal while others have been drastic. The situation has gradually gotten worse (actually in a couple of countries it has rapidly gotten worse) and is expected to get worse worldwide.
We have been relatively lucky in Australia due to the measures that have been taken. Initially it was considered that the measures were drastic but they seem to have been effective. Time will really tell. No doubt each country and organisation will take measures that they see fit and appropriate to their situations.
Over the last couple of weeks, the Melbourne Budokai committee has been monitoring the situation. We’ve been discussing whether or not we should be doing something and if so what we can do to minimise the risk of COVID-19. We understand that our normal training sessions have continued and that our members have been training with no obvious ramifications at this point. Also, there have been members from other clubs training with us and also other training sessions have been held at Kenshikan, the major one being the Victorian Kendo Squad training sessions.
The committee has been considering whether or not to hold the upcoming Nagae Taikai. After many discussions, particularly at last Sunday’s committee meeting, it was decided that the risks to all who would attend were minimal and the fact that we have all already been training together were factors to still hold it.
As of this morning, the World Health Organisation has now “declared the coronavirus outbreak as a world pandemic” and has urged everyone “to take urgent and aggressive action against COVID-19”.
Although the risks at the Nagae Taikai were considered low, the MBK committee now believes its prudent of us to take a responsible position and to postpone the 2020 Nagae Taikai.
There are lots of reasons why the committee has made this decision. In no particular order, these are just a few:
- The declaration by the World Health Organisation and their request that urgent and aggressive action be taken against COVID-19.
- The numbers of competitors and volunteers for the taikai are lower than last year. It was becoming obvious that the taikai will not be well attended. The reasons for this are not obvious but the Nagae Taikai is a celebration of Nagae Sensei and his immense contribution to our club, the VKR and the AKR. The attendance was not going to reflect the celebration.
- The financial impact to MBK is very low – 3 medals will need to be re-engraved with a new date.
- We need to consider the increasing risk from the virus not just to all those who attend the taikai but also to their family and friends – some of whom may be elderly, etc.
- It was highlighted that MBK is one of the largest clubs and that we should take a leading and responsible position on the spread of the virus. We feel that postponing the taikai is a responsible decision regardless of the low risk it might pose – it just takes one infection to have devastating effects as has already been shown in the community and across the world.
- Lots of sporting activities have been cancelled or postponed – particularly Kendo ones in Japan and Europe. Of course there are lots of others that are still being held.
- It was considered that the Nagae Taikai is a postpone-able event, although it is a very important one for Melbourne Budokai and the Kendo community. It was postponed last year due to the extreme heat that was being experienced at the time.
Again, there were other reasons to postpone it and of course reasons not to.
With the WHO making their declaration, more than likely this will have ramifications for other events not just with the Nagae Taikai – big and small.
We don’t want people to think that the MBK committee is panicking by postponing the Nagae Taikai. Our normal training sessions have not been cancelled and neither has the Kendo Introductory Course that is currently running. This might change as things progress with the virus.
The committee has taken into consideration the reasons to hold and not to hold the taikai and it was not a knee jerk reaction. We have considered medical advice that has been out in the public domain and that a couple of medical professionals have given us that are members of the club and outside the club. It is not a decision that was taken lightly. However, we feel that it is the responsible one.
As mentioned above there are other events that are held and will be held at Kenshikan (Vic Kendo Squad trainings and VKR gradings). The appropriate people responsible for those events may or may not reconsider holding them – the VKR is going ahead with the up coming grading this Sunday. It’s their decision, just like it’s the decision of the MBK committee to postpone the 2020 Nagae Taikai.
Finally, over the last few weeks MBK, the VKR and the AKR have sent notifications regarding steps that we as individuals can take to help minimise the spread of COVID-19. Please treat these steps seriously and take the appropriate steps.
We have no doubt there will be people not happy with this decision, just like the MBK committee is not happy with making it. However, we hope people will understand and be supportive of it.
The MBK committee wishes you and your family the very best and keep safe.
President Melbourne Budokai