Tour de France 2020: What impact Covid-19?
The Tour de France 2020 may take place without any spectators this year due to Covid-19, the French sports minister has said, and the event could still be postponed or even cancelled completely.
Sports minister Roxana Maracineanu told news source France Inter this week that “all scenarios were being studied”, including holding the event without spectators, postponing it, or cancelling it altogether.
“Discussions are still ongoing with [organiser Amaury Sport Organisation] ASO,” Ms Maracineanu said, “and it is still too early to say for sure” what will happen.
She explained: “The economic model of the Tour de France is not based on ticket sales but on television rights and media re-broadcasting. Everyone has understood the advantages of staying at home and focusing on the televised show rather than the live performance.
“At the end of the day, [doing this] would not be so damaging because we could follow [the Tour] on television.”
Every year, 10 million-12 million people from across the world usually come to line the route of the Tour.
And while it may be impossible to close off the entire 3,470km of the 21-stage race, Tour organisers are discussing the possibility of banning the public from the departure and arrival points, and from popular key points along the route.
This was the option taken by the organisers of the Paris-Nice race, which took place from March 8-15.
This year, the Tour is scheduled from June 27 to July 19.
“Less far-fetched” that Tour will go ahead?
The discussion comes after the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 have been postponed to next year due to Covid-19.
Emmanuel Hubert, owner of Rennes-based cycling team Arkéa-Samsic, has said: “It is too soon to decide [what to do]. It is still too far away.”
Yet, Tour de France rider Romain Bardet has said that it would be “less far-fetched” to imagine that the Tour would go ahead in comparison to the Olympics, even though the first stage would kick off earlier than the Olympics would have done.
Speaking to news source 20 Minutes, he said: “The question is inevitable. All the media attention will be on the Tour de France. [But] the conditions seem totally different for the Tour de France [compared to the Olympics]. We have a well-identified group of racers, we can reduce certain aspects…
“It seems much less far-fetched that the Tour will go ahead, if the pandemic is under control in France. But I think it is still too early to say. We know that strong measures have been taken. But I have hope that between now and the start of the Tour de France, we will have come out of this crisis.”
But Mr Bardet was less optimistic about the idea suggested this week by Italian rider Matteo Trentin, who said that the unprecedented conditions could perhaps lead to a giant grouping of the the three European races, the Tour, the Italian Giro, and the Spanish Vuelta.
He said: “I am a proud European and I think the idea is magnificent. But it would be completely far-fetched to think that it will be do-able. We should instead try to save the [existing] races rather than trying to create one out of all these different pieces. But well, we can dream.
“During these difficult times, that is a good thing.”
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France