Extraordinary 2020/2021 Biathlon Season finishes
The 2020/21 biathlon season has come to an end in Oestersund, with the men’s and women’s mass start competitions marking the end of a season which, at a time of great uncertainty, has delivered great sport and thrilling entertainment to biathlon fans worldwide.
Working in a close partnership with its Organising Committees, National Federations and broadcasters, the IBU has been able to deliver all 126 competitions it had planned for the season. Multiple events were hosted in the same locations to minimise travel and protect athlete health, and alternative hosts were on standby in case changes to venues were required.
More than 22,000 SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests were conducted during the season with the IBU providing its own testing system and traveling laboratory to maximise efficiency and ensure the safety of athletes and participants. Organisers also conducted rigorous health and hygiene protocols in line with the IBU’s COVID-19 Event Guidelines at each event.
Moreover, numbers reveal that interest in biathlon has grown during the pandemic. There was a 7% increase in hours viewed of the IBU World Championships Biathlon Pokljuka, Slovenia (160 million) this year compared to last year’s event. In Sweden and Norway, events during the World Championships achieved more than 80% market share and in Germany, the highest average audience for an event reached over five million. A recent survey among 13,000 fans has shown that almost a quarter of biathlon fans said that they are a little or much more interested in biathlon since the beginning of Covid-19.
IBU President Olle Dahlin said:
“It was a privilege to hold our events during these difficult times. This has been a season like no other but in many ways, it has been one of our most rewarding. We have of course missed the over half a million fans, who usually fill our stadia during a normal season, but our athletes have delivered thrilling competitions to enjoy around the world. We hope that the events we have hosted this season have inspired our biathlon fans and provided welcome entertainment and distraction during a difficult time.
“All the work the biathlon family has put into delivering safe and fair events has paid off. We also want to thank our media partner Eurovision Sport and the broadcasters as well as marketing partner Infront and our sponsors, for the close co-operation before and during the season and their valuable contribution in securing this season.”