THE coronavirus pandemic has claimed another victim, with the annual Charters Towers Goldfield Ashes cricket carnival cancelled for 2021.
Organisers were forced to pull the pin on the event, traditionally held over the Australia Day long weekend, as they were unable to meet strict COVID-19 health guidelines.
Charters Towers Cricket Association treasurer Kerri Forno said it was the first time the event had been cancelled, in what would have been its 73rd year.
Ms Forno said the committee had been working closely with Queensland Health to ensure the event could proceed, but with contact tracing details and social distancing needing to be maintained across 70 playing fields, it proved impossible.
A total of 245 teams had nominated for the event, which is the largest amateur cricket carnival in the southern hemisphere, bringing thousands of people to the town from January 23-25.
"We fought really hard and bent over backwards, but it was still not enough," Ms Forno said.
"We were very hopeful in Charters Towers given that we've only had one case of COVID, and it is not really in North Queensland.
"Queensland Health was very supportive, but we have 70 fields and we'd have to somehow man those fields as individual venues for contact tracing and social distancing.
"If we had 100 volunteers we could probably pull it off, but we've got about 10 people, there's no way we could have done it."
Ms Forno said with people travelling from across Queensland and even interstate, the committee decided to bite the bullet so plans could be changed.
"People will need to cancel accommodation and plane tickets, it is not something we took lightheartedly, we worked through it for about four weeks, and then realised we can't go any longer and needed to make the call before Christmas."
Ms Forno assured all teams they would have their nomination fees refunded in full.
The committee is hopeful the event would return in 2022.