In a statement from the FIS late on Friday, the international body confirmed reports that the World Cup Finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo are canceled and will not be replaced.
“Due to the outbreak and situation with the Novel Coronavirus in Northern Italy where there is a concentration of cases in the Veneto province that have led to travel restrictions imposed by an increasing number of nations, on the recommendation of the FIS Council, the Italian Winter Sports Federation and its Cortina 2020 Organizing Committee are regrettably forced to withdraw from the organization of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Finals scheduled for March 18-22,” the statement reads.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for us to make, but ultimately welfare and health of the athletes, teams and everyone associated with the World Cup as well as the general public must be our top priority,” said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. “This is certainly not the way we wanted the season to end without World Cup Finals, but we must respect this very serious situation. We look forward to reorganizing the winning athletes at a later date when we can properly celebrate their accomplishments.”
The FIS went on to say: Due to the lack of short-notice alternative locations to stage such a large event and which do not have travel restrictions to enable all athletes to be able to participate or travel onwards after the event, the Finals will not be replaced and the discipline and overall globes will be confirmed after the last scheduled races on March 15 for the women in Are (SWE) and Kranjska Gora (SLO) for the men. An occasion to formally award the winning athletes with their globes will be announced at a later date.
The Veneto region of Italy, home to Cortina, is among the hardest hit by the coronavirus in Europe. Veneto, along with neighboring Lombardy, remain under a level 4 travel warning by the U.S. government. Other countries, Canada and Norway, have issued similar warnings.
According to reports, it was a near-unanimous decision by the FIS Council, which is made up of 18 representatives from the national associations. All but one country — Italy — was in favor of canceling the event.
“It is with great regret that I took note of this decision,” Roda said through the aid of a translator. “But each member of the Council agreed to cancel the Finals due to limitations imposed by their respective governments in relation to the coronavirus epidemic. All this, however, resulted in a serious penalty for the world of sport, which will have heavy economic repercussions for both the Federation and the Cortina 2021 Foundation, which is the organizer of the next World Championships and should also have been the organizer of the Finals.”
According to the Italian press release, the World Cup season will be concluded in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia for the men and Are, Sweden for the women. World Cup Finals will not be rescheduled at another location, according to the release.
In a follow-up statement from the Italian press office, World Cup overall leader Federica Brignone also expressed her disappointment.
“I am particularly sorry,” Brignone said through translation. “We would have liked to run in front of our fans to conclude a great season in the best way with the whole team expressing themselves at maximum levels. These are four fewer races that will inevitably affect the outcome of the World Cup. … It is an inconclusive way to finish a season.”
The Italian racer leads the overall with 1,378 points over Mikaela Shiffrin, who currently sits in second place with 1,225 points, a gap of 153 points. In the slalom standings, Shiffrin was surpassed by Petra Vlhova, who now holds a mere 20-point lead over the American.