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Table of content
 Start field reduction confirmed
 Fairness was saved
Start field reduction confirmed

The IBU Member Federations decided at the 9th Regular IBU Congress to reduce the start fields at the World Cup and IBU Cup. After an extensive discussion the decision of the Executive Board, to newly regulate the number of athletes, who are allowed to start per nation, was accepted with 28 to 18 votes. This is the detailed new regulation:





1 to 5




6 to 10




11 to 15




16 to 20




21 to 25




26 to 30







In addition to the qualified athletes of the different nations there will be three wildcards.


In order to keep the competitions on a high level, Art. was changed as follows:  World Cup

The World Cup season consists of three trimesters generally made up of three WC events each, usually WC 1-3, WC 4-6 and WC 7-9. To gain the right to participate in WC events, a competitor must fulfil one of the following criteria during the current or preceding trimester:

a.            One result at an IBU Cup, OECH U 26, WCH or OWG in the sprint or individual that is max. 15 % behind the average time of the top three competitors, or

b.            One placing in the top half at the JWCH (not Youth).

All members of relay teams must also have met this individual qualification requirement.

The qualification criteria achieved at the IBU Cup/OECH U 26, WCH or OWG for the WC are valid only for the trimester in which the competitor begins competing at the WC.

To retain the right to participate in the next WC trimester in which a competitor chooses to start, the competitor must achieve one result that is max. 15% behind the average time of the top three competitors, in the current WC trimester in a sprint or individual competition.


Reduction in order to keep even and fair conditions


This reduction of the start fields became necessary as the number of nations and athletes at the World Cup and IBU Cup increased significantly over the past years and at some competitions reached over 130 athletes. In order to offer all athletes even and fair condidiotns and to guarantee TV coverage of the entire competitions the start fields needed to be reduced. IBU Secretary General Nicole Resch said afterwards: “I think it is especially good for biathlon that all nations contributed, no matter if big or small and thus kept the high quality in biathlon.”

Manfred Geyer, coach of the korean biathletes explained: „Korea supports professional sports, this is not just about participating in the World Cup for us. Athletes that are 20 % slower don’t belong in the Biathlon World Cup and Korea wants to work its way up. The money that we receive from IBU comes from the big nations, the so-called “5-star-nations”, they developed biathlon. Here, every suggestion is blocked by the small nations but they should not cut the branch they sit on!”


Qualification criteria reduced to 15 %


In order to guarantee a high quality in the World Cup, the criterium to gain the right to start in the World Cup was reduced to 15 %. Before, athletes could qualify- in addition to the nations quota- by achieving one result that was up to 20% behind the average time of the best three athletes. At an individual competition, which takes the world’s best athletes about 50 min there were also athletes on the tracks that were up to 10 min slower. Now, the time difference can only be a maximum of 7:30 min. Franz Berger explained: “By doing this we can keep the high standard that we already have and can offer everyone the best in biathlon.”

Fairness was saved

A group of experts consisting of Ingolfur Hannesson from EBU, IBU Race Director Franz Berger, former Chairman of the TC Norbert Baier, IBU Technical Committee Member Christophe Vassallo, and former athlete Vincent Defrasne explained the necessity for a reduction of the start fields to the Congress delegates. Here’s a brief interview with Vincent Defrasne:

Why were you asked to serve as an expert?

VD: This is a point that I really consider important in biathlon. It is important to change the rules when the context is changing. Biathlon got bigger and bigger and if we had not made this change now it would have become very difficult to do it in the future.

What was important to you about this rule?

VD: For me it is most important to keep the fairness. If there are too many athletes, it is not fair because of the weather, changing snow conditions, and the conditions of the tracks worsening. That is bad for the athletes, fans and for TV. Today, a lot of things could be saved, most importantly fairness.

Do you understand what the smaller nations think about this decision?

VD: Sandrine Bailly and I spoke to a lot of other athletes last season about this and none of them want the start fields to be too big. Of course this is hard for the weaker teams but a lot of the developing nations realize that their level has to be in accordance with the level at which they are racing. So today I feel very good about this.

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