With mounting concerns over coronavirus’ spread into northern Italy over the past week, questions are being raised about the viability of the 2020 World Cup Finals, which are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo March 18-22.
While efforts have been made to contain coronavirus to Asia, an alarming number of cases have now been identified in Central Europe, and no European country has been hit harder than Italy with 11 reported deaths and 322 infected cases, according to Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s Civil Protection agency, who spoke in a press conference on Tuesday.
Cortina lies within the northern portion of the Veneto region, which is the second-most affected region in the county behind neighboring Lombardy. According to statements made by the Italian government, Veneto’s 38 reported cases occurred in the tourist destination of Venice, more than 150 kilometers south of Cortina.
On Wednesday, Swedish news agency SVT Sport reported FIS officials are mulling over a plan to hold World Cup Finals without a public audience. Similar measures were put into place for this weekend’s women’s World Cup races in La Thuile, Italy. However, the Aosta region, home to La Thuile, has not experienced any reported cases of coronavirus and, therefore, is currently less threatened by the epidemic.
The SVT news report cites FIS Race Director Markus Waldner, who states in the report that World Cup Finals in Cortina are still scheduled as planned but may move forward without an audience.
“Currently, Cortina is confirmed as a competition venue, and without an audience in connection with the competitions,” Waldner told SVT Sport. “We work with different scenarios. Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. The biggest challenge is the speed competitions. But at the moment there is only one official plan: Cortina.”
Ski Racing Media’s own reporting with sources on the ground in Cortina confirms that operational plans continue to move forward with preparations underway on the men’s downhill track.
However, other events in the region have not fared so well. Serie A, Italy’s premier soccer league, has canceled several games scheduled to be played in Lombardy and Veneto regions. The Venice Carnival has also been suspended, while museums and cinemas have been closed, according to a CNN report. Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region, has confirmed a ban on public and private meetings, along with the closure of schools, universities, and museums in the region, CNN reports.
According to the AP, on Tuesday health ministers from bordering countries of Austria, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, as well as those from Germany and Croatia met to discuss the issue of border control. No permanent form of control has been implemented, although Austria has stopped trains traveling to and from the region to check passengers for the virus.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more updates on skiracing.com.