The IBU has defended the decision to award the 2021 World Championships to Tyumen in Russia ©IBU

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has defended its decision to award the 2021 World Championships to Russia amid criticism from the head of the Norwegian Federation, claiming the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave the green light to the country’s candidacy for the event during a meeting at Rio 2016.  

insidethegames understands clarification over the situation concerning hosting major winter sport competitions in Russia was on the agenda when the Association of International Olympic Winter Federations (AIOWF) met with the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Rio de Janeiro.

It came after the IOC Executive Board asked Winter Federations to "freeze their preparations for major events in Russia, such as World Championships, World Cups or other major international competitions under their responsibility" and to "actively seek alternative organisers" in the wake of the McLaren Report.

The WADA-commissioned report alleged the presence of a state-sponsored doping scheme in the country at several flagship events, including the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, prompting the IOC Executive Board to implement the series of provisional measures.

They are due to remain in place until December 31 and will be discussed at the Executive Board meeting in Lausanne in December.

insidethegames understands that the Winter Federations were told that the rules only applied to future candidacies of Russian cities for major events, despite the IOC statement not making clear that was the case, and that it was not the idea to order them to cancel existing competitions or planned bids, such as the one for the IBU World Championships from Tyumen.

This would perhaps explain why no winter events due to be held in Russia, such as next month’s World Mixed Curling Championships and the 2017 International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation Championships in Sochi in February, have been moved.

Tyumen was awarded the 2021 World Champsionships at the IBU Congress in Chisinau ©IBU
Tyumen was awarded the 2021 World Champsionships at the IBU Congress in Chisinau ©IBU

"The IOC is aware of the decision of the IBU and will continue its discussions with the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations about the practical implementation of the recommendation of the IOC Executive Board," the IOC said in a statement.

The IBU awarded the Russian city the 2021 World Championships at its Congress in Chisinau in Moldova over the weekend.

A spokesperson for the world governing body told insidethegames that the situation was "discussed and coordinated" with the IOC at Rio 2016 to ensure that giving Tyumen the hosting rights for the competition would not "conflict" with the recommendations of the Executive Board.

Tyumen beat off competition from two rival bidders, Czech resort Nové Město na Moravě and Pokljuka in Slovenia, with 25 votes.

The decision of the IBU has, however, already been criticised, with Norwegian Biathlon Federation President Erlend Slokvik describing it as a "scandal" on his Facebook page.

In response, IBU President Anders Besseberg told Norwegian newspaper VG: "The IOC stated clearly that the arrangements that were given to Russia, or applied for before the letter from the IOC arrived in summer, should take its course.

"It is based on the clarification we acted today."

insidethegames has contacted the IOC for further clarification about its recommendations.