Annual Russian Olympiada gets canceled due to COVID-19

By Jazlyn Jimenez ’20

The annual Russian Olympiada was canceled on March 11 as a measure to prevent the spread of the new global pandemic, COVID-19. 

According to a Google Classroom announcement sent out by Russian teacher Philip Stosberg on March 11 of a direct quote from the director of the Olympiada, stated, “It is with great disappointment that I write that we are forced to cancel this year’s Olimpiada because of concerns regarding the spread of the Coronavirus.”

The director goes on to explain that there were many factors behind this cancelation: 

  • “The Olympiada would be in direct violation of [the] directives” of the U of C and UIUC to avoid “large group events.” 
  • Also, As many of the judges are more likely to get this virus due to their age, as the statistics have shown that older people are more vulnerable to this new strain of Coronavirus, the director does not want to take any chances of putting these people at risk. 
  • Lastly, if they were to cancel any later, it would put them at “risk [of] not being able to cancel orders for food, rooms, and transportation.”

This news came as a disappointment to many of the participants, as for the past month, they have been preparing the material for the Olmpiada during class as well as some office hours. 

Through an interview with senior Marisol Barrera via email on March 15, Barrera expressed, “I was a bit upset that the Olmpiada was canceled because I had been working thoroughly on the work I had received to prepare for it.”

Furthermore, through an interview via FaceTime on March 17 with senior Pricilla Segura, Segura expressed that she was also “bummed out” for similar reasons, but she also added that this was her first time doing the Olympiada, and since she is a senior, she will not get this opportunity again.

As the cases of COVID-19 are continuing to drastically increase in the U.S., more and more events are getting canceled and questions surrounding the status of future events continue to arise. Another one of those events in the Russian department is the summer Russian study abroad opportunity in Latvia.

Barrera, who is also scheduled to participate in this study abroad program, expressed, “For the Latvia trip, we received news to accept/ decline our acceptance for the program, to continue with the process, and that they would keep updating us about the COVID-19 and its impact on our trip, so they haven’t canceled it yet; however, if the trip does get canceled, I will be very upset because it would be my first time traveling in general, and this would have been my first real experience in the world on my own.”  

According to the John Hopkins  University COVID-19 Dashboard, there are a total of 24,148 cases in the United States and 124 cases in Latvia as of the afternoon of March 21. On Friday, March 20, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered a “stay at home” and the closing of “non-essential business,” starting at 5 p.m. March 21 through Apr. 7 in efforts to help combat the spread of this virus.

“I think it is important to stay at home and practice social distancing as much as possible for these next couple of weeks to help slow down the spread of this virus that way people don’t get to miss out on this amazing opportunities, and life can resume back to normal because I know this virus has been a big inconvenience for everyone,” explained senior Cristian Oritz through an interview via FaceTime.