During the pandemic, Victor Ahluwalia and hundreds of others have kept their axe-throwing skills sharp by getting involved in the Quarantine Axe Throwing League, or QATL.
Competition organizers call it “the world’s first quarantine sports league” involving close to 350 axe-throwing members from around the world.
Ahluwalia, who has represented Newton’s Bad Axe Throwing location at world championships, says the Quarantine league has been “something to do and keep sane during the lockdown,” triggered by COVID-19.
“We just did seven weeks of matches, and now we’re in the playoffs,” he explained. “The league got so big, with people in all these different time zones. Sometimes we’ll just have a virtual match. For me, I don’t have a target in my backyard, it’s in my work’s warehouse, in Richmond.”
Quarantine league matches are held in backyards, garages and basements across Canada, Ireland, the U.S., Australia and other countries, with each thrower competing in four matches per week.
The matches are hosted online via video chat platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Live, for all to watch.
“It’s on the honour system pretty much,” Ahluwalia said. “We record the matches and people can see it if they want, and we can zoom the camera. I guess someone could cheat but if someone does, it’ll catch up with them.”
The idea for the Quarantine league “snowballed” during the early days of the pandemic, Zelaya said.
“We expected 10 to 15 league members. There’s now over 350 worldwide league members. We provided them with the technology and support to successfully run the leagues on a global scale. It’s been a huge success.”
Bad Axe Throwing’s spring league had to be cancelled, and now plans are to reopen locations as soon as possible.
“Based on some of the guidance the province has put out, the Surrey location could be among the first to reopen in Canada,” Zelaya said Wednesday (May 20). “People are calling us trying to book, so we know people want to get in there, want to throw, but we’re not reopened yet. I think maybe there’s a pent-up demand, an aggression release, of wanting to throw, and for people to just get out there again and be active.”
Zelaya said the “target date” for reopening the Surrey location is the second week of June, “at the latest. We’re making phone calls to staff to let them know to be ready over the next couple of weeks.”