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Coronavirus: UCI unveils “decisive measures” to combat impact of outbreak

Governing body seeking to balance health issues with fairness of competition

The UCI has issued its latest response to the coronavirus outbreak that has seen more than 100 cycling events postponed or cancelled as it aims to ensure the protection of members of the cycling community with fairness in competition. Among other things, it says that no decision will be made at this point regarding when races currently postponed, but which organisers hope to stage later in the year once the crisis has passed.

Unveiling today what it describes as “a series of decisive measures” following crisis meetings in recent days with stakeholders in the sport, world cycling’s governing body is aiming to strike a balance between “ensuring the maximum protection of health of all those involved in cycling events and sporting equity between participants.”

A fortnight ago, when the UAE Tour was curtailed with two stages left after two UAE Team Emirates staff members were diagnosed with coronavirus and all riders and staff on the race isolated in an Abu Dhabi hotel, the impact on the road cycling programme was unclear.

With the Spring Classics campaign beginning that same weekend, race organisers and the UCI had been hopeful to carry on staging events rather then cancelling or postponing them.

But in recent days it has become clear that given the measures implemented by a number of European governments restricting sporting events and mass public gatherings means that racing is at a hiatus for now, with some races scrapped altogether and hopes that others, including the Giro d’Italia, can be held later in the year.

The latest measures adopted are as follows, according to a press release from the UCI issued at lunchtime today:

The safety of athletes being a priority mission of the UCI, organisers are expressly requested to cancel any cycling event on the UCI International Calendar in territories identified at risk by the WHO [World Health Organization]

Suspension of all classifications for all events on the UCI International Calendar, across all disciplines, from 15 March 2020 and until further notice but at least until 3 April 2020. By freezing the points during the period indicated, the UCI is preserving sporting equity for the athletes

With regard to the qualification procedure for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which has been completed for road, track and para-cycling track but is still ongoing for mountain bike, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle and para-cycling road, the UCI has taken the decision to ask respectively to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that the qualification period is stopped retroactively as of 3 March 2020. Here again, with this strong decision, the UCI ensures sporting equity when it comes to the awarding of Olympic quotas.

The UCI said: “These important decisions are guided by the desire of cycling’s world governing body to ensure, as far as possible, the health security of cyclists, teams, organisers, partners, media and all concerned people, including the public, as well as fair competitions for athletes and their teams (commercial, and national in the case of the Olympic Games).

“Concerning the UCI International Calendar, the UCI has registered to date over one hundred postponement and cancellation requests, and the list is growing daily. For when it comes to professional road cycling, the UCI consulted with the bodies representing the organisers (AIOCC), teams (AIGCP) and riders (CPA).”

It added: “Concerning requests for postponement of events, the UCI will communicate at a later stage the possible reallocation of new dates, according to the possibilities offered by the UCI International Calendar but without any guarantee.”

In response to measures implemented by the Swiss Federal Council, the governing body is closing its headquarters in Aigle, the UCI World Cycling Centre, to the public, while its 120 staff will be working from home from this Tuesday 17 March.

UCI president David Lappartient said: “The international situation linked to the coronavirus has accelerated sharply recently, especially in Europe, which has pushed the authorities to take drastic measures that have a major impact on our sport in particular.

“Faced with this unprecedented and changing situation, we must adapt and take necessary measures to guarantee, as far as possible, the security of people at our events as well as sporting equity.

“With the strong decisions taken concerning the UCI International Calendar and the Olympic qualification procedure, we are providing the awaited answers for people in our sport.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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