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Masks and no selfies: Tour de France’s coronavirus plan

Fans will not be permitted to take selfies with riders or get autographs, masks are likely to be obligatory and the numbers of spectators limited. 

These measures were announced in a press conference Wednesday (August 19) that took place in Nice and involved the city’s mayor as well as Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme. 

Mr Prudhomme said that the organisers have done everything they can for the tour to set a good example of practicing safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

“Since April we have been working with local authorities, sports bodies and state services. Everything is in place for it to go smoothly,” he said. 

The Tour de France will start on August 29 in Nice and wind its way around the country before ending on the Champs Élysées in Paris on September 20. 

However this year there will be a number of changes to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

The zone open to spectators will be limited to 1750 places within an area of 3800 square metres. A carpet at the entrance will allow organisers to count the number of people entering. Organisers will also set up a filtering system for people looking to access a view of the mountain passes. 

As for obligatory masks for spectators, that will be up to the prefects of each commune the race passes through. For the start in Nice mayor Christian Estrosi was very clear on his position. 

“Not wearing a mask today is a sign of arrogance, or even, of [a willingness] to put others in danger,” he said at the press conference. 

Masks are already obligatory in certain parts of Nice, but Mr Estrosi wants to extend that to every part of the city.

“The easiest would be that they are mandatory everywhere. Then no one can say they don’t understand [the rules],” he said.  

Fans will not be allowed to take selfies with riders or get their autographs, and will also have to keep a two-metre distance from them. Hydroalcoholic gel will be provided for spectators, and they will be expected to respect preventative barriers such as keeping a distance, sneezing into their elbow and regularly washing their hands. 

The organisers have also stated that there may be last-minute changes to the rules if they feel it is necessary. 

For the organisers themselves, as well as the accredited journalists, they will all have to take a PCR test for Covid-19. The riders will be tested every day and if positive will not be able to continue in the race. 

Despite these measures, Mr Prudhomme said he was confident the event would be amazing for all fans of the tour. 

"Yes there will be fewer people, yes the party will be a little less beautiful, but you know behind the masks there will still be smiles,” he said. 

In another change, this year will be the first that there will not be two women on the podiums to congratulate the winners. 

"You are used to seeing the champion surrounded by two hostesses, with five elected officials on one side and five partner representatives on the other. Now it will be different with only one elected representative and one yellow jersey partner representative, as well as a hostess and a host for the first time," Mr Prudhomme said. 

He did not say whether the tradition of the winner receiving a kiss on the cheek, or a “bisou” in French, would continue this year. However in light of the other measures in place against coronavirus it is unlikely.

Read more about cycling and the Tour de France:

Tour de France 2020 seeks volunteers for Nice Grand Départ

Tour de France 2021 will depart from Brest, not Copenhagen

Tour de truth: bicycles with pedals were invented in France

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