The Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade is fewer than 100 days away ©Getty Images

A COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory at the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and local Organising Committee have together decided.

All delegation members will need to have been inoculated against the novel coronavirus to attend the event, which remains scheduled to begin on December 11.

A negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival in Switzerland will be also be required before any student-athletes, coaches or officials are cleared to take part.

Lucerne 2021 has been working with canton health departments to devise a hygiene and health plan for the event, and mandatory vaccination will be a key element which it is hoped will mitigate the risk of the multi-sport event contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

"It is unfortunate that we have had to come down to this, but I do believe that it was the only way that we could create an environment suitable to protect the participants, the spectators and the population of the areas where the competitions are taking place," FISU secretary general and chief executive Eric Saintrond said.

"On a more positive note, we are really excited by the 58 National University Sports Federations who have already announced their participation in this 30th edition of the FISU Winter Universiade, despite the difficult conditions. 

"Seeing such a strong participation is proof that together we will be able to make this event - as well as the dreams and aspirations of many - come true."

All delegation members at Lucerne 2021 will need to have been inoculated against COVID-19 ©Getty Images
All delegation members at Lucerne 2021 will need to have been inoculated against COVID-19 ©Getty Images

FISU said that making vaccination mandatory meant it was possible to keep Lucerne 2021 - which is now fewer than 95 days away - on the calendar.

It was originally scheduled for January 2021, but pushed back to December in light of the global health crisis.

Lucerne 2021 now has the distinction of being perhaps the largest sporting event scheduled where vaccination will be mandatory.

It was encouraged but not a prerequisite at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and some athletes competing at major events ranging from tennis' US Open to golf's majors, Europe's biggest football leagues to the gridiron National Football League in the United States, have so far been unwilling to have their jabs.

The joint FISU and Lucerne 2021 announcement is likely to draw the ire of anti-vax campaigners. 

"We are delighted that we didn’t have to cancel the event, originally scheduled to take place in January 2021, but were able to postpone it," added Organising Committee President Guido Graf, who is Director of Health and Social Affairs for the Canton of Lucerne Government.

"The number of registrations, with 58 countries announcing their participation in the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade, shows the great desire of the students for an international competition. 

"The health of all participants and the local population is a top priority. 

"We will ensure this by implementing appropriate hygiene and safety measures."