Jamie Koe and his Yellowknife foursome made the tough decision to pull out of the Northwest Territories Men's Curling Championship on Tuesday.
Koe, who has skipped the territory at the Brier 14 times, including 12 straight years, made the announcement on Twitter.
In his statement, Koe revealed that the Northwest Territories Curling Association notified teams wishing to withdraw from playdowns to do so before the Jan. 12 deadline. Pulling out of the tournament after would result in sanctions and an one-year suspension with an opportunity to appeal.
"Unfortunately the potential sanctioning poses too much risk to our team, potentially preventing us from competing in future NWTCA events such as mixed, mixed doubles and Brier playdowns," Koe said. "We feel that the withdrawal of teams from these playdowns in order to avoid sanctioning is limiting necessary competition at the territorial level, where COVID-19 is currently under control.
"However the safety of all players, officials and volunteers must be paramount to any decision to compete. At the date of this letter the proposed event is not approved by health officials. Also knowing the pandemic can change quickly, the status of COVID-19 in Calgary when the Brier would be held is a concern. Due to these concerns and information we have at this time, we reluctantly need to make the decision in order to avoid a year suspension."
The event, which is currently subject to approval by NWT health officials, is scheduled to start on Jan. 29.