Due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the World Championships will be held under special conditions, and the organizers, in cooperation with the International Biathlon Federation (IBU), are preparing three scenarios for this largest winter sports event in Slovenia so far.
As an organizer, the favorite would be the originally planned full-scale WCH scenario, which is already being prepared, but in this case, the picture of the new coronavirus pandemic should drastically improve in the coming months. On average, we have planned 12,000 viewers a day, but unfortunately this is no longer possible due to the provision of safe conditions and the prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus.
The wish is to run at least a backup scenario that would allow 2,500 spectators and 500 invited guests to watch the competitions, but if the situation is similar to the current one, only 500 people will probably be allowed to attend the competitions. No one is considering cancelling, especially after the IBU recently approved the calendar of competitions for the 2020/21 season and the WCH in Rudno polje.
Special conditions and protocols will be followed at the WCH. Basically, the IBU decided to divide the event participants into four separate groups (bubbles). In one there are teams, in the second the organizers of competitions, in the third the media and in the fourth the visitors. For the first three groups, the IBU has developed guidelines, and for fans, it allows organizers to resolve the issue themselves in accordance with the applicable measures of National Health authorities to prevent the spread of the virus in each country.
The measures themselves are not significantly different from other sports. It is a matter of strictly following the rules to reduce the chances of infection, so the groups are strictly separated from each other, and the competitors have their own accommodation, food and transport provided inside the bubble. All participants will also be tested in advance. In accordance with the general situation in connection with the coronavirus, the IBU will also decide on individual segments of the event, such as press conferences, special areas for media contact with athletes, ensuring public presence, etc.
The first decisions on the form of the WCH in Pokljuka will be known by the end of October, and the final format of the WCH will be determined by the end of November. The first World Cup in new season in Kontiolahti will also give the first answers on the organization of the biathlon competition in these special conditions.
The biathlon calendar has undergone profound changes due to the pandemic. The number of organizers has halved and so the opening competitions will be hosted by Kontiolahti, the next two by Austrian Hochfilzen, after the new year there will be two events in Oberhof, Germany, and the WCH general will be in Anterselva, which hosted last year’s Championships.
It is these competitions that will give the latest guidance to Organizing Committee Pokljuka. It will also be seen how the issue of fans can be solved, what little things can still be changed at the last minute and the organization adapted to the current conditions and mostly safe implementation od the WCH.