February 17, 2014 / 10:29 AM / 5 years ago

Men's mass start postponed, women's decision later

A worker walks past the track before the start of the men's biathlon 15km mass start event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - The men’s biathlon 15km mass start was postponed to Tuesday due to poor visibility after heavy fog descended on the Laura center at the Sochi Winter Olympics for a second day, organizers said.

The race was originally scheduled for Sunday evening but organizers had pushed it back to Monday morning.

A decision on whether the women’s race, scheduled on Monday at 1900 local time (1500GMT/11 AM ET), will take place, is to be made at 1600 local time.

Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Athletes have to complete a distance over skis and stop at a shooting range two or four times depending on the discipline.

As thick fog covered the mountains on Monday a view of the targets - 50 meters from where athletes stand or lie - was impossible.

It was the third time that a biathlon race at the Olympics has been postponed.

At the Nagano Games in 1998 the men’s sprint was called off after heavy snow and fog forced the race to be stopped. It was started again the following day.

In Sapporo in 1972, the same scenario applied to the men’s 20km individual.

France’s Martin Fourcade, who has already claimed two gold medals in Sochi, and Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who is looking to secure a record-breaking 13th Winter Olympics medal, are among the favorites for the men’s mass start.

Reporting by Julien Pretot and Annika Breidthardt, editing by Robert Woodward

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