Sochi has replaced Lake Placid as a venue for this year's Luge World Cup ©Getty Images

An International Luge Federation (FIL) World Cup event in December has been moved from Lake Placid to Sochi because competitors and officials from Russia and Georgia have been unable to secure United States visas, it has been announced.

The FIL had imposed a deadline of August 11 for a guarantee that visas would be issued to athletes from the countries for the event on December 4 and 5 but a combination of the coronavirus and international relations meant it was not met.

"The FIL was requiring a letter from USA Luge, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee or the State Department guaranteeing visa appointments for the Russian and Georgian teams by an imposed deadline of August 10," said Jim Leahy, chief executive of USA Luge.

"During COVID, most American Embassies around the world closed and are now just beginning to reopen.

"The current protocol at the Embassies with regard to appointments for visas is to prioritise those living in that country to apply for an appointment.

"With the US Embassy in Russia closed due to political reasons, we tried through multiple channels over several weeks to get the Russians appointments at the American Embassies in Latvia, Italy and Germany, but those efforts were fruitless as they are not residents of those countries.

"We also tried the Ukraine, but due to political reasons there, that US Embassy was not even an option for the Russians.

"The Georgians had the option in the Ukraine, but again since they are not residents, no appointment was possible by the FIL deadline.

"Our organisation exhausted every possibility right up to the deadline."

Lake Placid has been replaced as a Luge World Cup venue because competitors and officials from Russia and Georgia could not get visas ©Getty Images
Lake Placid has been replaced as a Luge World Cup venue because competitors and officials from Russia and Georgia could not get visas ©Getty Images

An added complication was the $2 million (£1.5 million/€1.7 million) cost of providing the teams charter air service from Germany to Beijing to Vancouver to Plattsburgh, New York to Germany to cover the transportation needs over the first five World Cup stops of the season.

The deadline with the charter service was August 11 at which time a 50 per cent deposit of $1 million (£725,000/€845,000) from the FIL was required.

This is the second consecutive season that extenuating circumstances have kept the World Cup tour from Lake Placid.

The pandemic was the root cause in late 2020, leading to a 2020-2021 racing schedule that was held mostly in Germany, and saw the US squad participate in just half the season.

"Now it’s the pandemic and other issues, all non-athletic, that will prevent our athletes from having a home race in front of their families, friends and fans," said Leahy.

"It also negatively impacts our personal engagement with team sponsors and suppliers who would attend, may possibly keep us off NBC, eliminates key media coverage we would receive just two months prior to Beijing, and ultimately, does nothing to help grow the sport of luge in the US."

The FIL World Cup season is due to start in Yanqing on the track for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing on November 20 and 21.

There will then be back-to-back World Cups on the track used during Sochi 2014 on November 27 and 28 and the event relocated on December 4 and 5.