The Tour de France has become the latest sporting event to be called off as a result of the on-going COVID-19 global outbreak, with the world’s most famous cycling race confirming it won’t be starting on its scheduled June 27 date.
The announcement follows on from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Monday speech in which he addressed his nation and announced that all public events with large crowds have been canceled until at least mid-July.
Tour de France organisers stated: “Given that it’s now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the [International Cycling Union] to try and find new dates.”
This cancellation marks the first time since 1946 that the Tour has not been held on time, however, organisers of the three-week event did confirm that the Tour may yet be completed before the turn of the year.
It was announced that new plans are expected to be announced before the end of April following discussions between the Amaury Sport Organisation and the International Cycling Union.
With this being said, due to the scale of the pandemic it has not been ruled out that the event could be scrapped altogether mainly due to the fact that holding the race without ‘legions of fans’ on the roadsides and mountain passes is not something organisers are likely to favor.
Nevertheless the idea has been previously proposed by French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, showing the instability of the situation.
Organisers now have to take into account a multitude of factors when discussing a potential new date for the tournament to get underway such as police presence and athlete training.
Regarding police presence, millions of fans watch each year’s race across many regions which in turn requires thousands of police officers to keep crowds under control and help negotiate safe passage for riders.
Furthermore, the riders who were set to compete in the race have now faced weeks of confinement as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and as a result will now more than likely require several more weeks to train and get into racing shape.
In addition to this, organisers of the contest would need borders to re-open to allow international competitors to travel to France such as last year’s winner, Colombian rider Egan Bernal.
Moreover, a rescheduled Tour de France date would also need to work around the pre-existing cycling calendar which includes the Spanish Vuelta which is scheduled for 14 August – 6 September.