The Grand American World Trapshooting Championships, traditionally held in Sparta, IL, every year, has been forced to relocate to Missouri for 2020. According to press releases from the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the 121st Grand American will not take place at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, citing public health concerns regarding coronavirus and Covid-19.
Earlier this month, the ATA asked state officials for a decision by June 15 to allow time for Grand American preparations. ATA staff was informed by IDNR representatives on Friday, June 12 that a Covid-19 Mitigation plan for the Grand American from the ATA would have to be submitted by Sunday, June 14 in order for the IDPH to consider allowing the 2020 Grand American to take place at Sparta. The plan was submitted to IDNR Saturday, June 13.
The next day, ATA Executive Director Lynn Gipson was informed by IDNR Director Colleen Callahan that the Grand American would not be allowed at Sparta this year. Interestingly enough, a statement was released by IDNR at the same time.
"The health and safety of participants who would attend, as well as spectators and staff, must remain top-of-mind," said Callahan. "Of course, we'll miss seeing participants and enjoying the camaraderie and sport from those who compete but, after considering recommendations and concerns from the Illinois Department of Public Health, know that safeguarding the health of attendees is the right decision in light of the ongoing global pandemic."
Over 5,000 competitors and spectators from around the world attended the Grand American last year, and similar numbers were expected for 2020.
Anticipating this decision, the ATA Executive Committee had a backup venue for the Grand at the home grounds of the Missouri Trapshooters Association, in Linn Creek, MO. As such, the AIM Championship will be held August 2-4 (trap events only) and the Grand American from August 5-15.
At least one Illinois State Senator is disappointed by the decision-making of the IDPH and IDNR, pointing out the failure of state officials to listen to local guidance.
"I am bitterly disappointed by Governor Pritzker's inexplicable decision prohibiting the 2020 Grand American from occurring in Sparta this year," said Paul Schimpf, a Republican who represents the Waterloo district. "The Governor's arrogant refusal to listen to Southern Illinois elected officials—Republican and Democrat alike—who urged him to allow the event deprives the region of tens of millions of dollars in desperately-needed income and undermines the viability of the World Shooting and Recreational Complex. The manner in which this decision was made, from ignoring logic to disregarding the input of local leaders, shows an utter disregard for the people of Southern Illinois and calls into question Governor Pritzker's ability to lead our state."
The ATA says staff is currently working on details and modifications for this year's Grand American at Linn Creek. Details will be posted to the ATA website over the coming days.
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