Anders Besseberg has served as president of the International Biathlon Union since its founding in 1993. (Getty Images)
(ATR) A mixed relay will open the biathlon world championships Thursday in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
The race is on display for the last time before IOC president Jacques Rogge singlehandedly decides next month whether to add the event to the Winter Olympic program.
Around the Rings
caught up with International Biathlon Union president Anders Besseberg during this busy winter sports season to discuss preparations for these world championships as well the mixed relay’s chances for Sochi and the race for 2018.
Around the Rings:
How are preparations coming for the world championships?
It’s going according to the schedule. There is some work on the infrastructure in the stadium which should be finished well in time before the world championships, so everything is in fact running according to schedule.
Biathlon has its mixed relay up for addition to Sochi? What must the event show in order to win Jacques Rogge’s approval and be added to the Winter Olympic program?
Well, I’m optimistic because it has proved now many times in our world championships the previous years and also in World Cups that it’s a very exciting competition that gives a big chance for some member federations that do not have, say, four strong men and four strong women which they can put up in separate teams in the traditional competitions.
Many of our member federations only have, for example, two strong men and two strong women, so the competition for the mixed relay medals will no doubt be more tough than the medals in men’s relay or women’s relay because there will be more favorites.
What about preparations for Innsbruck 2012?
2012 is also running very well, according to schedule. What is interesting there is that we will have a mixed relay together with the International Ski Federation with two biathletes and two cross country-skiers on the same team. So that will be an interesting event. It has not happened before, so it will be interesting to see.
In terms of the 2018 race, what is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?
Of course, we knew the bid from PyeongChang from earlier, and they have been losing by just a very few votes a couple of times, so there is no doubt they are a very strong bid.
Biathlon’s mixed relay is one of 11 events up for addition to Sochi 2014. (Getty Images)
Also, Munich and a lot of the facilities around Munich we know from earlier because the surroundings of Munich are already a very traditional winter sport place, so it’s no doubt Munich is also a strong bid, according to my opinion.
And Annecy hasn’t had too many of the big international competitions – more or less not at all in biathlon close to there – but they are coming on now, so we would also in the coming years have biathlon events up at Le Grand-Bornand, which is known for its finishing legs of the ski tour.
Those people are experienced in organizing big events, so they are anyway a strong runner-up, to say it that way.
Anything else on your radar at the moment?
Generally, so far this season everything has been running according to schedule with absolutely full stadiums every day at all of our competitions.
[We've had] very high television ratings, so we are very pleased with the situation, and lots of different athletes are winning, showing how very big a field we are having at the top of our sport. Many many different nations, many many different athletes are fighting for places on the podium.
Written by Matthew Grayson.
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