The upcoming edition of the Winter Universiade in the Swiss city of Lucerne has been cancelled, becoming one of the first major events to be called off due to concerns relating to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The multi-sport event had been due to take place in Lucerne from December 11-21 but it has been confirmed today (Monday) that the competition will not be taking place.

The decision has been made following meetings between the executive committee of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and the board of directors of the local organising committee. The decision has been taken in light of the “highly dynamic” developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions.

The newly discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been classed as concerning by the World Health Organization. The Swiss Federal Government has introduced incoming travel restrictions to limit the potential spread of the variant, meaning that Lucerne’s Winter Universiade cannot go ahead.

Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Israel and the Czech Republic are currently affected by Switzerland’s 10-day quarantine, with other countries likely to be added. With delegations due to travel to Lucerne from around the world, organisers have been forced to cancel the Winter Universiade.

Guido Graf, president of the local organising committee, said: “We are devastated and very sorry that we will not be able to welcome the athletes from all over the world, who have been preparing intensively for their competitions.”

Mike Kurt, president of Swiss University Sports, added: “We are incredibly sad that we will not be able to hold this great event and would like to thank everyone who has worked and invested so much over the past years.

“We are convinced that Lucerne 2021 will leave a long-term legacy for Swiss sport despite the cancellation. For example, almost 50 legacy projects were launched or implemented around the Winter Universiade in areas such as strengthening dual careers, sports infrastructure, sports development or innovation in Swiss sport.”

Lucerne had been due to stage the Winter Universiade back in January but the event was postponed due to the pandemic.

Image: Jovana Askrabic on Unsplash