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World Ski Championships to take place in Cortina after all, as ‘FIS family’ rallies to support region

Marcel Hirscher competes in the first run of the men's giant slalom event at the 2019 Alpine Ski World Championships in Are, Sweden (by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will take place as originally scheduled in Cortina, Italy, from February 9-21, 2021 after the sport of skiing rallied around the Covid-19-afflicted region to help it deliver the event as planned.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation (FISI) had submitted a request to postpone the World Championships until 2022 at the last meeting of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Council after the town of Cortina and the Veneto region of the country were badly affected by the pandemic.

FISI and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had also said the cancellation of the Alpine Ski World Cup Finals, also scheduled for Cortina in March this year, had caused significant economic damage and erased an opportunity to test all the new infrastructure and operational plans for the World Championships.

But a statement from the global governing body for skiing said the “FIS family” had come “together to support the Italian Winter Sport Federation” and had actively collaborated to find a solution for the event, awarded to the region in 2016, to take place as planned.

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper said: “We are happy that we could find a solution that the Cortina 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will be staged during the originally planned period in February 2021 to take their place as one of the highlights of the FIS winter season calendar.

“The last month of efforts to come to this solution demonstrates the strong collaborative spirit of the ski family and stakeholders involved to enable this important decision to be reached.”

It is not clear whether the FIS will be providing additional funding to the region. CONI and FISI have previously indicated they have ensured liquidity, thanks to bank loans from the Istituto di Credito Sportivo for €5m and €14m, respectively.

Cortina will also host Alpine skiing events during the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of a joint bid with the city of Milan.

In sticking to the pre-existing schedule, FIS has avoided further congestion in its event calendar. Moving the World Ski Championships to March 2022 would have placed it one month after the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics and would have likely meant FIS would have to cancel that season’s Alpine Ski World Cup Finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The FIS said the Alpine World Ski Championships are a very important event for the International Ski Federation and the member National Ski Associations during the two-year cycle, as well as numerous stakeholders. As well as serving to promote the sport and its athletes, it also provides visibility for National Ski Association sponsors aside from the FIS’ own commitments to broadcast partners and sponsors.

FISI president Flavio Roda said: “FISI has worked the last five years in close collaboration with all the stakeholders involved in the World Championships in Cortina.

“It was clear after speaking to them in the last weeks, there was a strong desire to carry out the event in 2021 and to put all resources available to ensure that the World Championships are carried out at the highest level. Based on this feedback and the clear commitment of all parties, FISI expressed to the FIS Council the importance of these World Championships to be staged in 2021 as a positive signal for the entire country of Italy.”