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‘Battle of the Blades’ halts skating competition after COVID-19 case

TORONTO — Producers are putting the upcoming season of “Battle of the Blades” on hold after an unidentified member of the production team tested positive for COVID-19.

In a news release Wednesday, Insight Productions said it’s halting preparations and training for the televised skating competition as a “precautionary measure” to ensure the safety of cast and crew.

CBC, which airs the show, said it supports the decision and will postpone the planned Oct. 15 premiere.

The public broadcaster said the individual is “currently asymptomatic and self-isolating” in accordance with Toronto Public Health guidelines. 

The network said it will share scheduling updates as soon as possible.

“Due to confidentiality and with respect for privacy on behalf of both the cast and crew, we are not able to disclose who tested positive for COVID-19,” the CBC said in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press.

This isn’t the first Canadian production to be derailed by COVID-19 concerns. 

In August, two people involved in the St. John’s-shot television series “Hudson & Rex” tested positive for the virus.

“Hockey Night in Canada” personality Ron MacLean hosts “Battle of the Blades,” which returned to the CBC last year, nearly six years after it left the air.

This year’s instalment of the celebrity on-ice contest is set to tape episodes with COVID-19 protocols, including socially distanced training, at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont. 

Video screens in the arena will show a virtual audience watching and reacting to the live performances from their homes and communities. 

Olympic ice dance champion Scott Moir, hockey champion Natalie Spooner, and professional skater Elladj Balde are this season’s judges, alongside world champion figure skater Kurt Browning as “elite battle expert.”

The live-competition series sees hockey players and figure skaters pairing up to perform on-ice dance routines for an audience and judges, with the winners getting $100,000 in prize money that they donate to charities of their choice.

This season has eight pairs of 16 skaters: Violetta Afanasieva and Anthony Stewart; Meghan Agosta and Andrew Poje; Jennifer Botterill and Eric Radford; Jessica Campbell and Asher Hill; Meagan Duhamel and Wojtek Wolski; Carlotta Edwards and Kris Versteeg; Vanessa James and Akim Aliu; Kaitlyn Weaver and Bryan Bickell  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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