Battle of the Blades.

It’s not just sports forced to reschedule thanks to positive COVID-19 tests.  Battle of the Blades, the CBC figure skating competition show that pairs hockey players and figure skaters (and sadly is not titled Dancing With The Stars On Ice), will have its sixth-season premiere (set for next Thursday, October 15) delayed following a positive test from a member of the production team. Here’s more on that from Debra Yeo of The Toronto Star:

In an email Wednesday, the broadcaster said Insight Productions has temporarily halted all training and pre-production on the new season “to ensure the health and safety of the entire cast and crew. CBC fully supports this decision.”

CBC said it would provide more details on scheduling as soon as possible. It would not comment on the role the person tested played in the production, citing confidentiality and respect for privacy, but said the individual is currently asymptomatic and self-isolating in accordance with Toronto Public Health guidelines.

This comes despite the show taking a bunch of precautions in light of COVID-19. Co-host Ron MacLean (who many know from his Hockey Night In Canada and CBC Sports work) spoke to Hello! Canada‘s Mishal Cazmi on some of that last week:

This season comes with COVID-19 challenges. We have established eight four-person teams. Each team consists of two skaters, a coach and a choreographer. They are isolated, and that means the coaches and choreographers are not helping any skaters beyond their own pair. I think that will actually ratchet up the competition, and when I see the names of the coaches and choreographers, I am truly blown away. No team has an edge, each team has stunning support. The absolute greatest influencers in the sport are mentoring our skaters.

While Battle of the Blades is mostly known in Canada (it ran for four seasons from 2009-13, then was revived last year), this is interesting news from a U.S. perspective as well considering the amount of reality competitions still shooting in the States. In particular, ABC’s Dancing With The Stars is in the middle of its 29th season. And it’s already seen massive production changes for COVID-19 precautions, some of which were highlighted in a Good Morning America piece last month:

Protocols include social distancing, temperature checks, wearing masks and regular testing of cast and crew, but there’s one rule that has already made headlines: The show is also mandating that all pros live apart to prevent the eliminations of two pros and their celebrity partners should one get sick.

“It’s going to be bliss — I mean it’s going to be terrible,” pro Emma Slater, who’s married to fellow pro Sasha Farber, told “Good Morning America” last month. “It’s going to be so different because we can’t actually interact and even prep with each other, which is something completely different, but we’re doing everything we can to keep safe. There’s going to be a lot of FaceTiming.”

…● Dancers will not come within 8 feet of anyone other than their celebrity partner while on set and at rehearsals. Similarly, judges will sit 8 feet apart, and dancers will be asked to stay at least 8 feet away from the judges.

● Dancers and pros will be tested at least five times each week and must complete daily health screenings before they can access the set.

So far, those precautions seem to be working out for them. And the Battle of the Blades news doesn’t specifically affect DWTS or any other ongoing competition show. But it does perhaps illustrate the importance of having COVID-19 precautions in place on sets, whether that’s for scripted TV, competition shows or sports events. (Another case of that comes from CBC police drama Hudson and Rex, shot in Newfoundland, which had its production derailed in August following positive COVID tests.) And it does illustrate how the COVID era’s altering broadcasting schedules in more than just sports.

[The Toronto Star]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.