International Korfball Federation President Jan Fransoo reflected on a year severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic in his end-of-year message ©IKF

International Korfball Federation (IKF) President Jan Fransoo admits that "multiple" national organisations have been left "fighting for survival" due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is "confident" major competition will return in 2021.

Fransoo was speaking in an end-of-year message where he reflected on a year severely disrupted by the global health crisis.

The IKF started 2020 with the Europa Cup and Europa Shield in January, but these proved to be the only international korfball events staged over the past 12 months.

Fransoo reported many national bodies were also unable to run any competitions as the world battled to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"For sure, this has been the most difficult year for the development of our sport since many decades, with multiple national organisations fighting for survival," Fransoo said.

"Our sport thrives because it is based around social relationships as competition and training are a means to bring people together."

Fransoo also credited those who have set up online courses and developed alternative formats of play and training within the limitation of social distancing.

"Within the IKF, we have struggled a bit to get this started, but some excellent initiatives in particular by Jorge Alves of the Playing Rules and Referees Committee have demonstrated the need," said Fransoo.

"We are happy to have Jorge on board in our Executive Committee now as we need to further expand such online activities, also beyond the current pandemic."

The arrival of the first coronavirus vaccines has provided the IKF with a "true sign of hope", according to the President.

Fransoo cautioned that the inoculation process would "take time" and require "quite a bit of patience", but said he was looking forward to seeing competitive action this year.

"The IKF is confident that in 2021 international competitions will resume," said Fransoo.

"The Continental Championships in Europe will provide a first big opportunity for many countries to meet.

"We are also hopeful for Oceania to host a meet between Australia and New Zealand some time soon, and are currently seeking hosts for the Pan American and African Championships to be held in late 2021 or early 2022."

Fransoo said he was also hopeful over the staging of the Under-19 World Championship in the Czech Republic, the Under-21 World Championship in Taiwan, the first round of the Under-21 European Championship in France, the first World Beach Korfball Championship in Morocco and the Asia Championship in South Korea, which are all scheduled to be held this year.

"We are in close contact with the hosts to define the conditions under which these can take place," added Fransoo.

"These may include testing and/or vaccination requirements, albeit that we do need to recognise that for events that are scheduled earlier in the year we still need to take into account the option of cancellation or postponement.

"There will only be a gradual way out of the pandemic, and this gradual way will take some years."

Fransoo revealed he was also "confident" the World Korfball Congress would take place in Belgium in October.

"It is an excellent occasion to congratulate the Royal Belgian Korfball Federation with their 100th anniversary," Fransoo said.

"We will definitely look at hybrid online/in-person options of presenting the Congress, but our expectation is that this Congress should allow for many of us to meet in-person in Antwerp.

"In the end, if there is one learning from the pandemic, it is that our community thrives because of personal contacts.

"A 3D meeting - ideally with touch and feel - build the relationships that are the foundation for our global community, and online meetings in 2D can only partially supplement this.

"The IKF Council wishes all of you a good recovery from the pandemic, both individually with your families and for your national korfball organisations, korfball clubs, and korfball schools.

"We wish you all the best for the year to come, and hope to be in touch with many of you, ideally in-person, but definitely online."