IBU set for World Cup season opener in Östersund - 98% vaccinated or recovered among teams

The 2021/22 BMW IBU World Cup season will officially get underway tomorrow as the world’s best biathletes gather in the biathlon capital of Sweden, Östersund, ready to battle it out for the first podiums of this new and exciting Olympic season.

Östersund was where the extraordinary 2020/21 season closed and biathlon fans around the world will be hoping the breath-taking action will pick up from where it left off. Close to 300 athletes from 35 countries will compete in the season opener which will see the best in the world go head-to-head before they meet in February on the biggest stage of them all: the Olympic Winter Games.

The IBU has been working during the off-season to ensure athletes will have the opportunity to compete at their best this season. As ever, the health and safety of athletes and officials remains the first priority and rigorous COVID-19 protocols have been developed based on expert guidance from the IBU Medical Advisory Group.

At the World Cup Season Opening in Östersund 98% of team members, including athletes, coaches, officials and technicians are fully vaccinated against or have recently recovered from Covid-19. The remaining 2% have to conduct SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests every 72h.

One member of the Austrian team has tested positive and is already in quarantine. Contact tracing by the local health authorities is ongoing. Athletes are not affected.

At the IBU Cup in Idre (SWE) the rate of recently recovered and fully vaccinated team members is at 97%.

IBU President Olle Dahlin said:

“The day before the start of the biathlons season is always a special occasion and this year with it being an Olympic year it is even more exciting. Over the next four months we will have the pleasure of watching the world’s best athletes compete in World Cups and at the Olympic Games. It is a privilege we do not take for granted.”

IBU Secretary-General Niklas Carlsson added:

“The IBU has established clear rules for our venues and general behavioural recommendations for our teams. We are relying on vaccinations for our events, but as we can see from recent pandemic developments, the vaccination doesn’t give participants a carte blanche to do whatever they want. We will rely on the cooperation of the National Federations, their teams and athletes to deliver a fair and safe biathlon season. Not only the IBU Covid-19 event guidelines but also team-internal Covid protocols are crucial to avoid quarantine and isolation in case of a positive test in a team.”

Specific COVID-19 regulations will depend on the national policies of each host-country but it is hoped this season will see the return of fans. Whether in the venue or not, fans will be kept closer to the action than ever through the Official IBU App, available on iOS and Android, which will ensure live updates from competitions, competition statistics and athlete profiles are never more than a click away.

This season will also see a greater commitment to sustainability as the IBU keeps working on its commitments to become a climate neutral sport by 2030. The IBU recently joined the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, which commits signatories to reduce their carbon footprint by 50% by 2030. This season, all the IBU organising committees will deliver a detailed CO2 emission measurement that will help them identify where to focus their reduction efforts. In September, the IBU launched an award for the Organising Committees to promote sustainability best practices at its events that will be first awarded in Spring 2022.

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