The FIS had hoped the Planica World Cup competitions would act as test events for next year's Nordic World Ski Championships due to be held in the Slovenian resort ©Getty Images

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has announced the cancellation of this month’s Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cup events in Slovenia due to COVID-19 concerns.

Planica was due to stage sprint and skiathlon cross-country events as well as Nordic combined competitions from January 22 to 23, but the FIS has been forced to call off the World Cup double-header following "strong" recommendations from health authorities, the Slovenian Ski Federation and the Local Organising Committee.

The FIS said it was a "tough" call as the World Cup competitions were due to act as "test events" for next year’s Nordic World Ski Championships, scheduled to be held in the Slovenian resort.

However, the worldwide governing body admitted the safety of participants "could not be guaranteed" because of the increasing risk of COVID-19.

Slovenia continues to be gripped by the pandemic due to the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Although the Slovenian Government has reduced the quarantine period for people entering the country from 10 days to seven, public transport can now only be used by those who have been vaccinated, contracted COVID-19 within the past six months or can show a negative polymerase chain reaction test result.

Slovenia recorded 4,486 positive cases on Saturday (January 8), its third-highest daily case rate throughout the entire pandemic.

Planica staged the final legs of the 2020-2021 Ski Jumping World Cup season ©Getty Images
Planica staged the final legs of the 2020-2021 Ski Jumping World Cup season ©Getty Images

"In the current epidemiological situation, 100 per cent safety cannot be guaranteed," said Dr Irena Grmek Košnik, COVID-19 coordinator for the Planica Organising Committee.

"Unvaccinated people will sooner or later become infected due to the high infectivity of the virus and risky contacts which would lead to the quarantine of a large number of other people, including foreign athletes.

"The current epidemiological situation in the country is poor and we are primarily trying to maintain the operation of critical infrastructure.

"At the same time, we prefer not to recommend events that pose additional risks for infections."

The World Cup events were due to be the final competitive races for cross-country and Nordic combined skiers prior to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, scheduled to open on February 4.

The news is also another blow to the Cross-Country World Cup as competitions, scheduled to run from January 14 to 16 in Les Rousses in France, were called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The FIS confirmed it was working to find a replacement venue following the Planica cancellation.