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Ladies and Congressmen

The IBU congress took place in Italian Merano past weekend. The representatives of the national federations gather every two years to make strategic decisions. This time the rules for the world biathlon were approved until 2014. Decline in consideration of the proposal of quarantine’s reduction after the change of sport citizenship, Bjoerndalen and Hanevold as trustees of Holmenkollen, and Alexander Tikhonov representing the bid of Belarus are in the on-the-spot photo reportage of

Always punctual IBU Congress, this time did not work so fast. Apparently, there were so many debatable questions, that the IBU had to appoint an additional work session on Sunday afternoon. The reason is simple – the more successful biathlon becomes, the more active become the lobbying interests of every national federation. Even the countries that informally called “small” in biathlon are grasping at any opportunity to influence strategic decisions. There are 48 voting federations at this Congress. As an example – members of the Congress chose the two new members of the IBU technical committee only in the 7th round of voting!

The most peaceful and pleasant issue that Congress had to solve was the choice of the WCH 2016 host city. Norwegian Holmenkollen was the sole applicant. However, even despite the 100% chance of victory, the two brightest stars of the biathlon galaxy – Halvard Hanevold and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen — came to support the bid. Their presence is better than any official guarantees – if Holmenkollen managed to bring both of them, then it will do everything else too, no doubts.

Election of the WCH 2017 was much more difficult. Two famous hospitable arenas, that annually host the world cups, fought for the right to organize the championship. The teams of Sweden Ostersund and Austrian Hochfilzen tried to make their presentations in the most effective way. Both candidates invited congress participants for a lunch on the eve of the election, presentation stands with refreshments and handouts were set up at the entrance to the meeting room, and the Swedes even drove their famous wax-truck with Helena Ekholm conducting the tours in it. However, it did not help. The congress chose Hochfilzen, and happy Austrians rushed to seal up the word “candidate” on their banner.

The bid of Minsk for the IBU Congress 2014 was even more effective and surprising. Ukrainian Kiev was another applicant city, but Minsk used a breathtaking move. Four-time Olympic champion Alexander Tikhonov presented the bid. One month ago he announced his decision regarding cooperation with the biathlon federation of Belarus. On ceremonial occasions, Tikhonov came to Merano on luxurious white Rolls-Royce. The result is four votes advantage for Minsk with 48 countries voting.

Meanwhile, the RBU team worked on the other principal issue. There was a proposal of quarantine’s reduction after the change of sport citizenship on the Congress’ agenda. The issue became disturbing for the Russian functionaries after the Games in Vancouver, where the two former Russians — Anastasia Kuzmina and Elena Khrustaleva – won medals. On the eve of the Olympic Games in Sochi, the reduction of the ban on performance in international competitions could incite other athletes to change the citizenship. By the decision of the Executive Committee, this question was deferred until the next Congress, which will take place in September 2014.

Opportunity to participate in the European Championship for the athlete of junior ages was another strategic issue for the Russian side. The IBU Congress got the proposal to exclude juniors from the European Championship, as there is a separate World Championship for this age group. For the countries with many biathletes, this exclusion would mean fewer international starts for reserve teams, as well as fewer dividends for sportsmen and coaches for winning the titles. In this regard, Russia consolidated with the most major biathlon countries. Another promising Russian project was presented at the Congress. Head of the ski and biathlon complex “Laura” Andrey Markov led the presentation of the World Cup in Sochi, which will take place on March 4–10, 2013.  

All the decisions made at the IBU Congress in Merano will hold at least for two years. The minor amendments are possible at the IBU Executive Board’s meetings, which happen every six months. However, all strategic decisions will be postponed until the Olympic Games in Sochi. The next Congress will take place on the eve of a new Olympic cycle and will include elections. It is logical to await more radical solutions than those occurred in Merano. 

RBU Media Office