The Executive Board (EB) of the International Biathlon Union today announced that four World Cup events will take place in the first trimester of the 2020/21 season as planned. However, in order to minimise travel and protect athlete and stakeholder safety they will be hosted in just two venues. The competition dates and disciplines remain unchanged. The EB also agreed that the 14th Ordinary IBU Congress will be held virtually and the adjusted IBU Cup season programme was published.
With the adjusted calendar, the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup will kick off in Kontiolahti (FIN) as scheduled but then remain there for another week for the second World Cup event, before the circuit travels to Hochfilzen (AUT) for the third and fourth World Cup events. Originally, Östersund (SWE) and Annecy-Le Grand Bornand (FRA) had been scheduled to host two of these World Cup events. But, following consultations with the Organising Committees, relevant National Authorities and the IBU Medical Advisory Group, the EB and the organisers agreed reducing the number of stops on the circuit would protect participant health and minimise travel challenges.
IBU Secretary-General Niklas Carlsson said:
“We are pleased that we are able to provide four World Cup events for our athletes and fans this year. We are though of course disappointed that we will not be visiting each of the four venues we had planned. It was a tough choice and we thank our organisers for their understanding and cooperation to come to this decision, which is accepted by all parties involved. The plan we have agreed on means we can host four World Cup events but at the same time reduce the health and logistical risks that come from travelling and venue changes.”
Before making the decision, the IBU worked with the World Cup Organising Committees, their National Federations and broadcasters, to evaluate the travel options and budget implications for hosting the events under the IBU’s COVID-19 event regulations, as well as the availability of each venue for hosting multiple events. The EB also decided to guarantee financial support for all organisers – both those who are holding additional events under the new programme and those who are not planned to host a World Cup event any longer under the new schedule. Any decision regarding if, and how many, spectators will be allowed to attend the events will depend on the national health authorities’ regulations in place for each venue in connection with the IBU Covid-19 event guidelines.
The EB confirmed the IBU World Championships Biathlon will take place on 09-21 February 2021 in Pokljuka (SLO). A decision regarding the schedule for the BMW IBU World Cups in January 2021 will be taken in October 2020 and the schedule for the World Cups in February and March 2021 will be decided in November 2020.
After the delay of the IBU Cup season 2020/2021, which was announced earlier this month, the adjusted calendar for the IBU Cup has now been agreed. Under the same principle of minimised travel, the series will feature three stops in Arber (GER), Brezno-Osrblie (SVK) and Ridnaun (ITA) with five event weeks. The Open European Championships will be held in Duszniki-Zdroj (24-31 January) as scheduled.
The EB agreed to support regional events in all recently defined IBU regions in which mainly neighbouring countries compete. Offering a reasonable number of competitions for youth and junior athletes was of high importance following the EB’s decision earlier this month to cancel all IBU Junior Cup events for the 2020/21 season and the Junior Open European Championships.
IBU President Olle Dahlin said:
“Biathlon, like all sports, is facing challenges we have never faced before. While disappointing, we have to accept that changes to our original plans are absolutely necessary. But by working together with all biathlon stakeholders, we have been able to find solutions that prioritise the health of our biathlon family and at the same time maximise the number of events that can take place. We believe that the plan we have developed has achieved that. We have kept the same number of World Cup events for the first trimester and ensured that all levels of biathlon will be served with international competitions next season. There is a lot for our athletes and fans to look forward to.
“We will continue to follow expert medical guidance and implement carefully considered safety measures at all our events. We remain flexible to changes but we are greatly looking forward to the new season beginning.”
The 14th Ordinary IBU Congress, originally scheduled for 13-15 November in Prague (CZE), will now be held virtually on the same dates.
The EB also received an update from the IBU fluor working group. The Board agreed to reconvene on the matter in the next weeks immediately when further field test reports of the Fluorine Tracker, the test device which scans the skis, have been received.
The IBU COVID-19 Event Guidelines can be found here: https://www.biathlonworld.com/about-ibu/inside-ibu/staysafe/