Sigulda in Latvia is set to host the opening legs of the IBSF World Cup ©IBSF

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) 2020-2021 World Cup season is set to begin in Sigulda in Latvia - despite concerns over COVID-19.

Russia has already had to withdraw its bobsleigh team after three athletes contracted COVID-19, but Russian skeleton athletes are still permitted to compete.

Switzerland and Austria also had personnel test positive for the virus, but contact tracing did not result in the nations' teams being unable to take part.

Athletes without a negative COVID-19 test were not permitted to enter Latvia, and there has been further testing before they could enter the track area.

There will be no spectators present because of the health crisis, while IBSF guidelines mandate the wearing of masks and social distancing.

Racing at the three-day World Cup leg begins tomorrow, with the men's and women's skeleton contests scheduled.

Two-man and two-woman bobsleigh will be spread across the following two days of competition.

Latvian Martins Dukurs topped last season's IBSF World Cup overall men's skeleton standings ©Getty Images
Latvian Martins Dukurs topped last season's IBSF World Cup overall men's skeleton standings ©Getty Images

This is the first of two consecutive World Cup legs in Latvia, after the World Cup season was adapted to reduce travel.

Skeleton world champions Tina Hermann and Christopher Grotheer are among the star names set to compete, and will lead the German skeleton teams.

Amelia Coltman of Britain, who won the overall Europa Cup title last season, is set to make her World Cup debut in the women's skeleton, while reigning world bronze medallist Janine Flock of Austria and Germany's Jacqueline Lölling - last season's overall winner - are also on the start list.

Latvian Martins Dukurs, last season's overall men's skeleton World Cup winner, a six-time world champion and holder of the Sigulda course record, is expected to be the man to beat in the men's contest.

German double world and Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich headlines the two-man bobsleigh field.

Another German Olympic champion - Mariama Jamanka - is to compete in the two-woman bobsleigh, but last season's World Cup champion Stephanie Schneider missed out on selection to the German team.

The United States and Canada are not taking part in any IBSF World Cups until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, while athletes from China and South Korea will also be absent.