It's beginning to feel more and more like 2020.
Wednesday, Hoopfest announced its 2021 edition, already postponed from its regular June weekend, is canceled due to the aggressive delta variant of COVID-19 pushing regional medical facilities to the brink of disaster. Hoopfest had been planning its event for Sept. 11-12 in downtown Spokane. Just yesterday the event organizers were still hopeful it would happen, even as they recognized the threat of the delta variant.
"This decision has been excruciatingly difficult, especially because the circumstances have significantly worsened in just the past 48 hours," Hoopfest organizers said in a letter to the "Hoopfest Family." "Our priority has always been the health, safety, and wellbeing of our community. It is with that in mind that we are following the guidance of the authorities to cancel the event scheduled for next month."
Alex Jackson, the president and CEO of Multicare Rockwood Clinic, the event's "official medical provider," chimed in that "bringing together thousands of people poses a risk and would be detrimental to our efforts in caring for our community."
For teams registered to play Hoopfest 2021, the cancellation statement notes that they "have a choice between donating your registration fees or requesting a partial 20% refund."
The letter notes that the reason for the partial refund is that money had already been spent in preparation for the Sept. 11-12 scheduled Hoopfest. The announcement notes that "until this morning, we were planning for the event in September, and had incurred many of the expenses necessary to execute the event. As a small non-profit, the past 16 months have been very challenging financially, and with your understanding and support we will survive this setback and be ready for Hoopfest 2022." Registered teams and players will get an email with further instructions on the refund possibilities.
There might be some confusion among registrants on that refund policy, as it's seemed to evolve.
An Aug. 11 update on the tournament COVID guidelines noted that:
Elsewhere on the Hoopfest site, though, on its FAQ page, it notes that typically Hoopfest has "a no-refund policy once a team has officially registered for the event." But it also says:
An important caveat to that line is that it doesn't say "full refund."
We reached out to Hoopfest officials for clarification and will update this story when we hear back.
Update: Hoopfest Executive Director Matt Santangelo took to Facebook Thursday to talk about the refund policy.