Coronavirus: Tour de France could be held without fans, still on track to begin as scheduled in late June

The Tour de France, the cycling world’s premier annual racing event, is not scheduled to be held until the end of June, yet officials are trying to figure out the safest way to still hold a competition featuring upwards of 160 competitors in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic. In a report from the BBC published Thursday, it appears that the plan — at least for now — is to let the race go ahead without any fans.

“We have [imposed spectator bans] for other competitions before,” Roxana Maracineanu, France’s sports minister, told the BBC. “But there’s a time for everything. We have a more urgent fight, it’s still too early to decide [to go ahead]. Let’s put all our effort into climbing that mountain before tackling the next one.”

Maracineanu referred to this strategy as running the race “behind closed doors.” While other sports have followed through with this idea of holding sporting events without spectators, where cycling has the advantage over those sports is that the “business model of the Tour doesn’t depend on ticket sales like football or rugby.”

The Tour de France is still currently set to be held from June 27 to July 19. The Giro d’Italia, another major cycling competition, has already been postponed in response to the coronavirus epidemic. It was set to be held from May 9 to 31. The decision on what is to come of the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana, is up in the air. That is due to start on Aug. 14.

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