IBU Cup events in November and December have been cancelled ©IBU

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has cancelled events on its second-tier Cup circuit in November and December due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IBU Executive Board agreed to start the Cup season in January at its latest meeting this week.

A revised schedule for the Cup, an annual series for athletes below the IBU World Cup series, is set to be published following an Executive Board meeting this month.

The IBU reiterated its plan to hold a full World Cup series in 2020-2021, despite the COVID-19 crisis.

The entire Junior Cup circuit has also been cancelled.

In a statement, the IBU said it "cannot guarantee the same very high standards of protective health measures that will be delivered at the IBU World Cup and the other planned events, at the Junior Cups". 

"It was therefore decided that the Junior Cups must be cancelled and the opening of the IBU Cup will be postponed to avoid putting any athletes, teams and officials at risk," the IBU added.

IBU President Olle Dahlin said the governing body would support any regional competitions which take place in the absence of its own competitions.

"The IBU recognises that this is a very difficult time for the biathlon family, as it is for all sports," Dahlin said.

"We are working hard to ensure we maximise the number of events we can host while always ensuring that the health and well-being of our athletes and all stakeholders is our first priority. 

"We are satisfied with the plan we have developed that will mean biathletes of all levels have access to international competitions next season.

"We are also planning to support regional competitions in which neighbouring countries can compete if health regulations allow. 

"The development of a concept to promote regional competition is one pillar in the IBU development plan and we will look into if and how this can be applied next season."