The World Cup schedule has athletes crisscrossing Europe as pandemic rages. This may not be the same time to begin a series of competitions that require moving hundreds of people across Europe during the next few months.

And yet, that is exactly what is happening as winter draws closer, temperatures drop, and the international winter sports schedule gets underway. Alpine skiing kicked off in Solden, Austria, this month. Nordic skiing, biathlon and sliding sports (bobsled, luge and skeleton) are scheduled to begin. 

There are testing protocols, reservations for lengthy stays in European chalets and contingencies for a coronavirus getting worse.

There are also a lot of athletes and coaches crossing their fingers and hoping that the plans and rules they have agreed to will keep them safe, as they watch the virus surge again across Europe and rules shift each week for testing and quarantine visitors.

''It's just an ever evolving situation,'' said Chris Groover, a director of cross country skiing for U.S. Ski and Snowboard , the national governing body for three. ''It's a lot to navigate.''

Unlike most domestic sports leagues, which play in one country for their entire season, the sinter Olympics sports function on traveling circuses, moving largely across Northern and Central Europe from November until March.

Competing on different slopes, and trails and tracks is an essential characteristic of each sport. Creating a bubble like their used by the National Basketball association, or multiple bubbles, would be virtually impossible.

That said, these sports will require athletes, coaches and support staff members to do exactly what medical experts have been trying to get people not to do since March - spend lots of time in large groups, go into even larger ones for competitions and travel internationally.

While tennis and golf have contended with similar challenges, the World Cup tours for the winter sports create a level of risk that may be higher, especially if infection rates continue to rise.

''I think we are going to be OK, not without infection or incident, but we really have tight controls to deal with something, should it come up,'' said Tiger Shaw, the president and chief executive of U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

In a statement, the international mSki Federation said executives haad worked closely with event organisers and medical experts to create the safest possible environment.

The World Students Society thanks author Matthew Futterman.


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