Posted by Editoress on 03/15/20
In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the UCI has announced measures to completely shut down racing across disciplines until at least April 3rd, effective immediately. The UCI has also closed the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, and all staff will be expected to work remotely.
As countries close borders and all international sports leagues suspend activities, the UCI has, until now, taken the approach of leaving it up to individual organizers to decide whether or not to continue with their events. Some have acted responsibly, announcing closures and suspensions with long enough lead times to allow riders and teams to avoid travel. However, others, such as the US Cup XCO that is scheduled to take place today (and ran a Short Track on Friday) [Note: this event was finally postponed this morning] and the Cape Epic, which suspended its start only 48 hours from the first stage, did not.
The UCI has suspended all sanctioned events of every level and across every discipline, effective today. This levels the field so that no one can gain UCI points. Since this is still within the Olympic qualifying period for Mountain Bike, BMX Racing and Freestyle, plus Para Road, they have also applied to the International Olympic and International Paralympic Committees (IOC and IPC) to freeze the qualifying period points retroactively at March 3rd.
The UCI explained their decision in a release:
Concerning the Olympic and Paralympic qualification procedure for cycling events that are ongoing, the situation to date is the following: considering the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus, maintaining the qualification periods initially planned (11th May 2020 for BMX Freestyle, 27th May for mountain, 1st June for BMX Racing and 7th of June for para-cycling) would have resulted in unfairness between nations. The UCI has therefore decided to propose to the IOC and IPC to stop the procedure as of 3rd March, in view of the fact that up until that date, no nation had been prevented from travelling to events.
This decision is guided by the fundamental principle of equal treatment for all athletes, and the importance of preventing these same athletes having to make incessant changes to their competition programmes and training plans. The constantly changing health situation also makes the possibility of building an alternative calendar for postponed events uncertain, despite the possibility of extension until June 30, 2020 granted by the IOC to all International Federations.
Moreover, it should be made clear that 70% to 85% of the qualification events for these disciplines have already been held, and the classification taken into account, therefore represents a true sporting value. By taking this action, our Federation ensures the integrity of our athletes as well as equality of treatment of all nations and does not contravene the principles of the qualifying systems of the Olympic movement. The request has been presented to the IOC and the IPC, in order to allow publication of the Olympic rankings and quotas of the remaining disciplines as soon as possible.
The UCI President, David Lappartient, stated: "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. The challenges we face in light of the current situation require all members of the cycling family and of the Olympic movement to be innovative, strong and united."
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