As part of their ongoing response to the coronavirus outbreak, FIS officials are reportedly considering extreme measures, which may include canceling the remainder of the World Cup season entirely, according to men’s race director Markus Waldner.
Waldner, who spoke on the subject at a team captains meeting in Hinterstoder, Austria, Friday, is demanding a decision from the FIS Council, which is made up of 18 representatives from the national associations. As part of his comments, Waldner cast doubt as to whether the World Cup can proceed in a safe and effective manner given the outbreak.
Waldner previously said World Cup Finals, which are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, March 18-22, would be held without a public audience, but matters have become all the more serious with many prominent television stations withdrawing plans to send personnel to the event.
The coronavirus outbreak has been particularly severe in Italy, and Cortina lies within the northern portion of the Veneto region, the second-most affected region in the county behind neighboring Lombardy.
Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the federal coronavirus response, announced in a press conference Saturday that the U.S. has raised the travel warning to level 4 – its most severe warning – with respect to affected areas of Italy, specifically the Veneto and Lombardy regions.
“Do Not Travel to … Lombardy and Veneto due to the level of community transmission of the virus and imposition of local quarantine procedures,” the warning states.
In a recent communication to athletes and staff, U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw said the federation remains in close contact with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), which is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for guidance and instruction.
In a conversation with Ski Racing Media Sunday morning, Shaw said the situation is extremely fluid and changing every day, but U.S. Ski & Snowboard will continue to abide by the CDC recommendations.
“In alpine, we have a number of trips with destinations in Italy, so that’s our most immediate decision making,” said Shaw. “Is anybody outbound to an area of concern? We’re pretty bullish on Scandinavia, currently … and we’re getting a lot of close advice from the CDC, which is helpful.
“Veneto is now in a level 4 warning,” Shaw emphasized. “Clearly, we’re going to heed that. Does that impact Finals? Obviously. But, again, this is day-by-day decision making. … We’re reevaluating this daily, if not more often, and we’re going to be making decisions on the fly as we roll into next week. ”
As of press time Sunday, Shaw said U.S. Ski & Snowboard has received zero insight from the FIS with regard to how the schedule may shake out. Aside from Waldner’s comments, FIS has yet to make any official statements on World Cup Finals or the remainder of the World Cup season, which has stops scheduled in Kvitfjell, Norway, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and Are, Sweden.
“It would be really obvious to add races where the teams already are, in safe countries,” said Shaw.
A decision from the FIS is anticipated Monday.