IBU World Championships Promise Innovation and Thrilling Competitions
The BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon (7-17 March 2019) in Östersund, Sweden, is set to be one of the most exciting yet, with a new race on the programme and over 300 of the world’s best athletes from 37 nations competing for 12 world titles.
In addition to usual fan-favourites, the Single Mixed Relay (6 km W/ 7.5 km M), where teams comprised of one woman and one man hunt for gold, will be part of the competition schedule for the first time. The introduction of this additional event reflects the IBU’s commitment to gender equality and innovating formats to keep the sport as attractive as possible to athletes and fans from a broad variety of nations.
This will be the first World Championships held under the leadership of IBU President Olle Dahlin and come at a time when significant progress is being made in reforming biathlon. Fundamental to this process of reform has been the IBU’s commitment to strengthening its anti-doping programme to protect the integrity of its competitions and ensure a level playing field for all athletes. The IBU has partnered with the International Testing Agency (ITA) to provide independent and world-lead anti-doping expertise and has developed its anti-doping education programmes.
The World Championships will be the first event overseen by newly appointed Mrs Sarah Fussek-Hakkarainen, who will serve as the IBU Interim Anti-Doping Manager on a part-time basis and head up the IBU Anti-Doping Department. Fussek-Hakkarainen is a seasoned sports administrator with over 10 years’ experience of managing anti-doping programmes on the international level. Since 2008, she has served in various positions at the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Fussek-Hakkarainen’s appointment is the latest step to strengthen the organisation internally. The IBU recently appointed Interim Secretary-General, Alf Koksvik, who will bring extensive biathlon experience to his role and help navigate the organisation through this critical period to the Extraordinary Congress in September.
Further innovations to the sport and IBU events will be introduced as part of the IBU’s first-ever Strategic Plan, which is currently being developed and will be presented to the IBU Extraordinary Congress. Focus group meetings with biathlon stakeholders have already been held to gather their input and ensure that the IBU’s new Strategic Plan represents the views of the entire biathlon family.
President Olle Dahlin said:
“It is with great excitement that we are welcoming the biathlon family and fans from across the world to the IBU World Championships in Östersund. The sport of biathlon is in excellent shape. Our thrilling competitions are seen by more people than ever before, with TV-audiences continuing to grow in both traditional and new territories, and hundreds of thousands watching the action live in the stadia.
“On an institutional level, we want to build on the encouraging reforms we have introduced over the past six months and take the next steps here in Östersund. We have made good progress to strengthen our organisation internally and we will continue to introduce changes that benefit everyone in the sport.”
During the World Championships, President Dahlin will participate in an international seminar organised by the Swedish Biathlon Federation on the topics of climate change and sustainable models for winter sports events. Meetings with the IOC and other International Federations are also scheduled.