The World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, have been postponed to 2022.
The first joint World Championships for Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country and Para snowboard were originally scheduled from 7-20 February 2021 and will now take place early January 2022.
The reason for the postponement is the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges associated with it.
The decision was made by the board of the Norwegian Ski Association, in consultation with World Para Snow Sports, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the Norwegian Biathlon Federation and the Norwegian Board Sports Federation.
The announcement followed a series of meetings and a close dialogue with Norway’s national health authorities about future events this upcoming season.
“We know how much the event means to many and we understand well the disappointment of having to wait a whole year, but the championships’ scope, duration and complexity cannot be accommodated under the current situation of the pandemic nationally and internationally, Erik Roste, President of the Norwegian Ski Association, said.
“The risk of spreading infection among volunteers, competitors and in the local community does not make it justifiable to carry out the competition as planned,” Roste added.
Christian Holtz, Managing Director of the World Para Sports, said:
“We were looking forward to the championships in Lillehammer next year, but we fully support the decision to postpone it to January 2022. While these were not the news we were hoping to share with our sport community, we will always put the health and well-being of athletes and all those involved in the competitions as our priority. All World Para Snow Sports Championships partners have done a fantastic job and we will now keep on working together with them to deliver our most important event to date.”
The rescheduled World Championships will retain the name Lillehammer 2021 and will be the largest Para sport event in Norway since the Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer in 1994. The championships are set to host 750 participants from over 30 nations and 700 volunteers.
All partners, led by the VI Foundation, will join the team until 2022. Norwegian broadcaster NRK, which will produce and show the championships together with TV2, will also extend its involvement until 2022.
“The goal was to take the best decision also for the fans, on whom we are completely dependent. I want to thank everyone who makes it possible for us as organisers to invite the world to Lillehammer in 2022,” said Secretary General of the Norwegian Ski Association, Ingvild Bretten Berg.
With the decision to postpone, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) went from a planning period of 80 days to around 400 days.
“Although the sporting performance of Para athletes is unique, Para sports have not always been given the great attention that the athletes really deserve. The enthusiasm we now experience around the athletes and the Word Championships we will build on every day until 2022 – and for many years to come,” said Ola Keul, Director of the Lillehammer 2021 LOC.
The new competition schedule will be announced on a later date.