Curling World Cup suspended after payment dispute with funding partner Kingdomway Sports

The World Curling Federation has cancelled the 2019-20 Curling World Cup, claiming its funding partner for the series, Chinese company Kingdomway Sports, had failed to make payments due under an agreement between the two parties.

In a statement, the federation said: “Earlier this year Kingdomway Sports, the funding partner for the series, breached the agreement by refusing to make all payments as outlined in the contract. Despite its best efforts the World Curling Federation has not been able to resolve this matter and has terminated its contract with Kingdomway Sports. As a result, the Federation, regrettably, cannot deliver the events on its own to an appropriate standard.”

The federation and Kingdomway Sports last year announced a four-year “strategic partnership”, from 2018-19 to 2021-22, involving the launch of the Curling World Cup, which replaced the World Series of Curling. China Daily reported that Kingdomway Sports was investing $13.4m in the partnership.

In its inaugural season, which ran from to May 2019, two of the four rounds of the competition were hosted in China.

Kingdomway chief executive Jiang Bin had previously heralded the Curling World Cup as “the next big step in China’s rise to prominence in winter sports”. There has been a major focus on developing winter sports in China since Beijing was in 2015 appointed host of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Kingdomway Sports is a strategic partner of the Winter Sports Administrative Centre, part of the General Administration of Sport in China, the government body in charge of sport.

The World Curling Federation said it would look for new funding partners to help restart the Curling World Cup: “The first season of the Curling World Cup added an exciting dynamic to the curling calendar, achieving promising worldwide television and media coverage. The concept has been received positively by athletes, coaches and fans alike. It has also been a platform to test new rules in elite competition with direct engagement from the top athletes competing in the three Olympic disciplines of women’s, men’s and mixed doubles curling.

“The World Curling Federation is disappointed it can’t deliver a second season of the Curling World Cup at this time and is grateful to everyone who worked on the first season. However, the Federation firmly believes in the concept and will work hard with stakeholders to identify new funding partners to return the Curling World Cup to the international curling calendar.”