Swiss officials warn COVID-19 rules threaten sports events

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic officials in Switzerland urged the federal government Tuesday to exempt international athletes and officials from new quarantine rules that threaten the hosting of World Cup events in winter sports.

People arriving from the rising number of countries on Switzerland’s red list must enter mandatory 10-day quarantine periods to protect against COVID-19 and the aggressive omicron variant.

The red list now includes Canada, where women’s Alpine skiers — including former World Cup champions Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States and Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland — are currently competing at Lake Louise. They are scheduled to travel next to Switzerland for two super-G races at upscale St. Moritz.

“If travel restrictions and quarantine rules are maintained, the organization of international sporting events in Switzerland will be in danger, if not impossible,” said Jürg Stahl, the president of Switzerland’s national Olympic committee.

Switzerland is also due to host cross-country skiing at Davos, ski jumping at Engelberg and ski cross races at Arosa in the next three weeks.

Swiss Olympic warned of difficulties under the current rules for athletes who “can no longer practice their profession,” plus sports clubs and the wider economy, such as hotels and restaurants.

The Swiss economy was already hit this week by the cancellation on less than two weeks’ notice of the 2021 world university winter games based at Lucerne.

Hundreds of athletes, coaches, officials and event staff were due to arrive for competitions at several venues in central and eastern Switzerland.

Stahl said Swiss Olympic wanted to work with federal and local authorities to find solutions.

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