The UCI announced today a series of updated measures to combat the serious threat of COVID-19.
Previously, the governing body of cycling had announced that it would not cancel any event and instead it would be up to the individual organizers to make the final decision. But in their latest statement this was reversed with the UCI announcing that “they had specifically requested to cancel any cycling event on the UCI international calendar in territories identified at risk by the WHO”. Currently, the countries most commonly classified as the highest risk level for infection are: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. We have contacted the UCI for further information on which countries they consider “at risk” and will update the article when we have more information.
In addition to the request to cancel events in high-risk areas, the new measure provides for the suspension of classifications for all events on the UCI international calendar from March 15 to at least April 3 to ensure that no athlete forgets not to participate in an event .
In addition, they decided to retroactively end the Olympic selection procedure with the end date which is now March 3. This also serves to ensure that no athlete has missed an opportunity not to compete in the past few weeks due to the spread of the virus.
At the moment, we do not know the extent to which this will affect the next races, but the UCI has stated that it will provide more information on the new dates of the events if they are able to find space in the calendar. We will provide updates on this once we know more.
Based on the assessment made by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the current situation relating to the COVID-19 epidemic and the restrictive measures taken by a number of countries in Europe and in addition to prohibiting, in particular, meetings and movements of people, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today announces a series of decisive measures with the aim of ensuring maximum protection of the health of all those involved in cycling events and sporting fairness among the participants.
Not wishing to contribute to the spread of the virus and with the aim of ensuring sporting fairness in its competitions, the UCI, after various crisis meetings held at the end of last week and at the weekend, has taken the following measures:
Since the safety of athletes is a priority mission of the UCI, the organizers are expressly requested to cancel any cycling event on the UCI international calendar in territories identified at risk by the WHO;
Suspension of all classifications for all events of the UCI international calendar, in 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 maintains the sports equity for athletes;
As for the qualification procedure for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which has been completed on the road, track and cycle path, but is still ongoing for mountain bikes, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle and para-cycling on the road, the UCI has taken the decision to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) respectively for the qualification period to be terminated retroactively from March 3, 2020. Again, with this strong decision, the ‘UCI ensures sporting fairness when it comes to the concession of Olympic quotas.
These important decisions are guided by the desire of the world cycling governing body to ensure, as far as possible, the health safety of cyclists, teams, organizers, partners, media and all interested people, including the public, as well as fair races for athletes and their teams (commercial and national in the case of the Olympic Games). As for the UCI international calendar, the UCI has registered over one hundred requests for postponement and cancellation to date and the list is increasing every day. As regards professional road cycling, the UCI consulted with the bodies representing the organizers (AIOCC), teams (AIGCP) and cyclists (CPA).
As for the Olympic and Paralympic qualification procedure for the current cycling events, the situation to date is the following: considering the uncertainty on the spread of the virus, maintaining the qualification periods initially foreseen (11 May 2020 for BMX Freestyle, 27 May for the mountains, June 1 for BMX Racing and June 7 for para-cycling) would have led to inequity between nations. The UCI therefore decided to propose to the IOC and IPC to terminate the procedure from March 3, in view of the fact that up to that date no nation had been prevented from going to events.
This decision is guided by the fundamental principle of equal treatment for all athletes and by the importance of preventing these athletes from making continuous changes to their competition programs and training plans. The constantly evolving health situation also makes it uncertain the possibility of building an alternative calendar for postponed events, despite the possibility of extension until 30 June 2020 granted by the IOC to all international Federations. Furthermore, it should be clarified that 70-85% of the qualifying events for these disciplines have already taken place and that the classification taken into consideration therefore represents a true sporting value. By adopting this action, our Federation guarantees the integrity of our athletes and the equal treatment of all nations and does not contravene the principles of the qualification systems of the Olympic movement.
The request was submitted to the IOC and the IPC, in order to allow the publication of the Olympic rankings and odds of the remaining disciplines as soon as possible.
As regards 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.
Furthermore, as regards the UCI staff, we have taken measures in accordance with the new directives of the Swiss Federal Council adopted on 13 March 2020. Therefore we have decided to close the buildings of the UCI World Cycling Center (WCC) in Aigle, which house the headquarters of our Federation, for the public. For the 120 staff members who work for the UCI and the UCI WCC, we have put in place a business continuity plan by activating office work from Tuesday 17 March 2020.
Finally, the UCI reiterates that it places its full trust in the competent authorities to contain the spread of the virus and, for its part, continues to play its role as governing body of cycling for the families of our sport with the double priority of health protection and sports equity. In this period of uncertainty, the International Federation will continue to monitor the situation closely and take appropriate measures in the interest of our sport. Invite everyone’s solidarity to overcome these difficult times.
UCI President David Lappartient said: “The international situation related to coronavirus has accelerated sharply recently, especially in Europe, which has prompted the authorities to take drastic measures that have a significant impact on our sport in particular. Faced with this unprecedented and evolving situation, we must adapt and take the necessary measures to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of people at our events and sporting fairness. With strong decisions made regarding the UCI international calendar and the Olympic qualification procedure, we are providing the expected answers for people in our sport. The challenges we face in light of the current situation require that all members of the cycling family and the Olympic movement be innovative, strong and united. “