Ole Einar Bjørndalen and his Chinese sportsmen are currently on altitude in Baschang, Inner Mongolia.
This weekend they woke up to a sandstorm and had to train indoors, but it is not the climatic challenge that offers the biggest problems for the 46-year-old Norwegian.
The planned departure to Europe on 16 November - 12 days before the start of the World Cup in Kontiolahti - hangs in the balance. Not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because the military is holding back 8 of its 11 biathletes.
«Next 5-6 months in Europe will be very important, where we can train and compete in international arenas. We are looking for a way out and coming to Europe with the team. But there aren't a lot of chances, that it will happen before Christmas», says Bjørndalen.
This means, that 22 races in Kontiolahti and Hochfiltzen will disappear for the majority of his athletes. The task for Bjørndalen is to obtain a Chinese biathlon medal in the Olympics at home in 2022.
Last year Chinese men's team made a giant leap in Nation Cup. They get 23rd place, and can put up 3 athletes to each start. Women's team get 17th place, and can 4 athletes. This year they can lose all of these achievements, before the Olympic Games.