Following meetings of the Executive Committee of FISU and the Board of Directors of the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade Association, FISU and Lucerne 2021 have announced with deep regret that the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade scheduled for 11 – 21 December will no longer take place. Restrictions on international arrivals have been announced by Swiss authorities with regard to a number of countries where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified. Many more restrictions are expected in the coming days. Similar restrictions are also being announced by national authorities elsewhere, and the first case involving the Omicron variant has already been identified in Switzerland.
“In the face of travel restrictions being imposed in Switzerland and all around the world, we have had no other choice but to cancel the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade. This decision was made with a very heavy heart. So many of my fellow Swiss university sports colleagues had already given so much, for so long to this event. But the new travel restrictions mean that staging the event has now been made impossible,” said FISU Acting President Leonz Eder.
“On behalf of FISU, I would like to offer our solidarity and sincere gratitude to the organising committee of Lucerne 2021 and all the partners who have been working so hard to provide a magical Alpine moment. FISU is also deeply saddened for the delegations from National University Sports Federations from all around the world who had been looking forward to Lucerne 2021.”
Extensive COVID-19 protocols had already been put in place for Lucerne 2021, considering the health and wellbeing of all participants. The newly-discovered Omicron variant of the virus, has been described as a variant of concern by WHO. In order to prevent proliferation of the new variant in Switzerland and/or to suppress it, the Swiss Federal Government has, amongst other measures, enacted incoming travel restrictions for a wide range of countries, which have been placed on a quarantine list. These measures have already been applied in the cases of delegations scheduled to take part in the Winter Universiade. A number of delegations would have had to undergo a 10-day quarantine that would not finish before the start of the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade. Other countries with delegations that were scheduled to participate are very likely to be added to this list in the coming days.
The incoming travel restrictions would also have impacted specialist personnel required for multiple aspects of the event such as Timing & Scoring or TV Production. Meanwhile, other countries are also expected to apply restrictions for travellers arriving from Switzerland in the coming days and weeks.
“We are devastated and very sorry that we will not be able to welcome athletes from all over the world who have been preparing intensively for their competitions,” says organising committee President Guido Graf.
Lucerne 2021 had initially been scheduled for the beginning of 2021, but was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. With the next winter edition of the FISU World University Games scheduled for Lake Placid in 2023, further postponement is not possible.
“Holding the event in December was already a plan B,” expressed Eric Saintrond, FISU Secretary General-CEO, “so postponing again was not an option. I am deeply saddened to announce that our dream to hold this prestigious event in Switzerland this year is now over. Current times have been difficult for major international sporting organisations, and FISU has unfortunately not been spared from the pandemic. The beauty of being able to hold a major event with guests, athletes and collaborators from all five continents is something that has become part of our everyday lives here at FISU. The cancelation of the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade makes us appreciate even more the amazing environment that we are part of, and we feel more determined than ever before to keep the dreams of current and future student-athletes alive.”
“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, and innovation in Swiss sport,” said Mike Kurt, President of Swiss University Sports.