The battle at Bells Beach will be back on in 2022 after the Victorian government signed a new three-year deal to host the iconic surf event at the world-famous beach.
A key leg in the WSL World Tour, Bells won’t be contested in it’s usual Easter timeslot this year because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s the second time in the event’s 60 years the Bells Beach Classic won’t be contested, having also been cancelled in 2020.
Fears of a dreaded third wave of the virus hitting Melbourne amid another outbreak this week highlight how temperamental the world sporting scene is.
Given the priority of accommodating returning Australians in hotel quarantine, the Victorian government was unable to provide the WSL with a guarantee regarding quarantine places for overseas competitors to enable the event to proceed at Easter.
The event was cancelled after the World Surf League (WSL) announced Merewether Beach in Newcastle, NSW, would host the fourth leg of the Championship Tour over the Easter long weekend.
But the major Victorian event will be back next year, and part of the WSL Tour.
“It’s disappointing that circumstances will not allow us to surf at Bells Beach this year, but we are excited that this new three-year agreement will ensure the continuation of one of surfing’s most historical events,” World Surf League Asia-Pacific General Manager Andrew Stark said.
“We thank the Victorian Government for their understanding throughout this incredibly challenging time and look forward to the Bell being rung for a long time to come.”
Victorian sports minister, Martin Pakula, said “no-one is happy” about cancelling this year but was glad the event could return.
“The Rip Curl Pro is known around the world and loved at home – and it’s great that it will be returning to Bells Beach in 2022 and for at least two more years after that,” he said.
“No one is happy that we can’t host the event this year, but the public health advice was clear and protecting the health of Victorians is non-negotiable.”