Biathlon: Russia’s team in isolation – positive tests in five nations

Hotel isolation for Russia’s biathletes, home quarantine for Austria’s ski jumpers and confusion about a positive corona test among Norway’s cross-country skiers: the winter sports season has not really started yet, but it is already becoming apparent which problems the corona crisis is causing.

Before the start of the Biathlon World Cup in Kontiolahti, Finland on Saturday, corona tests in five nations were positive. The Russian team has been hardest hit so far with four positive cases – including former relay world champion Anton Babikov. On Thursday, the team members were initially not allowed to leave the hotel rooms, according to a message from the Russian association. Members of the teams from Latvia, Moldova, Romania and France also tested positive for the coronavirus. While the French did not have to be quarantined, the Finnish authorities will still decide how to proceed in the other cases.

Meanwhile, it became known that the Slovak top biathletes would miss the start of the season due to positive corona tests in the team. As the national association announced on Thursday, the findings became known before the trip to Finland. The team was in Sweden at the time. Seven team members must now be quarantined and isolated for at least a week. “Unfortunately, the long-awaited start of the season has now been postponed”, wrote Paulina Fialkova, the best biathlete in Slovakia, on Instagram.

Also in Finland, the entire cross-country skiing team from Norway had to go into quarantine for a short time, according to media reports. The reason was that national coach Eirik Myhr Nossum had initially tested positive on Wednesday. A control test at Nossum later turned out negative, as the radio station NRK reported. This means that the Norwegians will be able to take part in the World Cup start on Friday.

National coach criticizes the world association

Peter Schlickenrieder, national trainer for German cross-country skiers, criticized the World Federation FIS for its management of the sport in the corona crisis. “A lot could have been done differently. There was a lot of time to plan. A chance has been wasted, “Schlickenrieder told the sports information service. He criticized the entire World Cup calendar, the first six competitions of which take place in five different countries – an avoidable risk of travel in pandemic times.

“There was a long discussion. About merging the World Cup venues, thinking more sustainably, reducing risks. Now we are flying back and forth, from Sweden to Finland to Sweden. That could have been avoided, ”said Schlickenrieder. Biathlon with its compressed calendar is a role model. There, three organizers will each be hosting two World Cups in a row by the end of the year: “They’re doing it right. Less effort, more content. ”

The athletes were not only worried about biathlon or cross-country skiing. Austria’s top ski jumpers are in quarantine at home. Gregor Schlierenzauer and Philipp Aschenwald as well as head coach Andreas Widhölzl tested positive before leaving. For them now only a B-team competes in Finland. In the Alpine World Cup and in bobsleigh there were also compulsory breaks for several athletes due to positive corona tests.
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