DOSB President Thomas Weikert: "This achievement is worthy of all honour"
Thomas Weikert, President of the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB), is not only impressed by the German team's performance during the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup 2024 in Oberhof. In an interview, he talks about the opportunities and challenges with regard to Oberhof as a World Cup venue and the Olympic movement.
Mr Weikert: Given the recent challenging weather conditions, would you have thought that World Cup races could take place in Oberhof?
In view of the weather around the turn of the year, I would actually have to answer the question with 'no'. However, I also know how meticulously work is done here in Oberhof and what the many volunteers do on site. Despite the difficult conditions, securing the snow and ultimately holding regular competitions - this achievement is worthy of all honour. I haven't spoken to anyone who hasn't praised this achievement.
The DSV team rewarded this work at the start of the World Cup - almost like a script - with top performances. How do you rate the developments in the German biathlon team?
The performances are remarkable. Not many people expected this development before the season. So it's all the better that our biathletes are starting the new year so successfully after an exceptionally good start to the season. In this context, the current performances in other sports - cross-country skiing and ski jumping are just two examples - should not be forgotten. In the medium and long term and with a view to the 2026 Olympic Games, the current development gives us hope.
In 2021 and 2022, the World Cup at the Grenzadler had to take place without spectators due to the coronavirus. Thousands of fans are now once again creating a goosebump atmosphere in the arena in Oberhof. How important is this atmosphere?
Without question: sport without spectators is not the same. Cheering, emotions, but also anger - it's all part of it. From my point of view, it's important that we don't misjudge the value behind it and that we also enjoy an atmosphere like the one we experience here.
After the Biathlon World Cup, the next highlights in the ARENA am Rennsteig are the Cross-Country World Cup (19 - 21 January) and the Special Olympics National Games (29 January - 2 February), followed by two Luge World Cups in February. How important is the base here in Oberhof?
The large number of competitions shows how important the location is. Oberhof and Thuringia are very important. However, it must also be said that the politicians and the German Armed Forces here in the Free State are very supportive. Without this support, many things would simply not be possible. I would like to see the same at a national level, also with regard to the summer competitions.
Conserving resources, year-round utilisation, energy efficiency: the topic of sustainability plays a major role in Oberhof. How important are innovative and, above all, sustainable concepts for sport in Germany and the Olympic movement?
The topic of sustainability is very important. In Oberhof, I was able to gain an impression of the measures in the individual sports facilities shortly after taking office. This is exemplary, not only in terms of securing the location. Such approaches need to be implemented throughout Germany, otherwise it will be difficult for the future development of sport and winter sports in particular - but also with a view to a possible bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Germany.
Interview & Photo: Ronny Knoll