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International Biathlon Union Congress Opens in Prague

Sat, Sep  6, 2008 - By US Biathlon Association

The Eighth Regular Congress of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) officially opened today, with 53 nations answering the roll call at the first business session.

The Senate of the Czech Republic hosted the official opening ceremonies on Thursday evening in the gardens outside their chambers, followed by a buffet dinner at the Knights Hall Restaurant.

During today’s business meeting, the most extensive discussions revolved around motions to amend the Event and Competition Rules, especially World Cup participation. Over the past several years, fields at some of the World Cup competitions ballooned to almost 130 starters, with varying degrees of ability. This forced the television producers who air the competitions live, to request a reduction in size of the fields, making them more attractive, more competitive, and requiring less airtime. Last year, organizers tested a qualification system that reduced fields, but left many coaches and athletes dissatisfied. The proposal of the Executive Board (EB) would have reduced weekly fields to near 100 athletes. A series of amendments to this proposal, coming from smaller nations (who would have seen some athletes eliminated from most World Cup competitions) resulted in the defeat of the EB proposal.

Accordingly, both organizers and television will continue to deal with large fields in the coming season, making their jobs more challenging.

US Biathlon Executive Director Max Cobb commented, “The system that determines participation In World Cups will not be well received by the other major stakeholders in the biathlon community. I am sure that this issue will be revisited by the Executive Board and future Congresses.”

The IBU Congress closes on Saturday with the awarding of the 2012 and 2013 Biathlon World Championships. Vying for the Championships are Ruhpolding, Germany; Oslo, Norway; Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, Lahti, Finland, and Kontiolahti, Finland. All of these locations except Nove Mesto have previously hosted the Biathlon World Championships.

The United States Biathlon Association is the National Governing Body for the sport of biathlon in the United States as recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Biathlon Union. The US Biathlon Association supports the US Biathlon Team and development of the sport on all levels within the United States.

TD Banknorth is the title sponsor of the US Biathlon Team. Lapua, adidas®, and Exel Ski Poles are supporting sponsors of the US Biathlon Team.