Altogether, the cross-country skiing competition has drawn more than 400 athletes from 37 countries and more than 200 staff to Vuokatti, northern Finland. Meanwhile, 217 athletes and 150 staff from 20 countries are in attendance at the Nordic combined and ski jumping competition in the southern city of Lahti.
The competition is divided into two age groups: U20 (under 20 years old) and U23 (20 to 23 years old). Since the JWSC is the highest-level international competition for athletes under the age of 23, almost all international and Olympic ski champions have participated in it at some stage.
Ensuring the safety of the event in the midst of the pandemic, all the arrangements have been made in close coordination with local authorities, including the testing of all athletes and staff. Furthermore, no spectators can be found cheering on the sidelines, and the athletes did not raise their flags at the opening ceremony.
Following on the heels of Finnish city Salla’s 2032 Olympic bid, the event is also drawing attention to the ramifications of climate change and not taking steps towards a more sustainable future. Protect Our Winters Finland, the non-profit main sponsor of the event, stepped up its awareness campaign prior to the event’s commencement, with the participation of ambassador Jessie Diggins, an American skier who won gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“Cross-country skiing is a sport that depends on winter and snow,” Diggins said. “In order to have competitions like JWSC also in the future, climate change is a thing to take seriously especially within the sport of cross-country skiing. We need snow, we have to have it and I hope that the next generations after us get this opportunity as well.”