Tour de France go ahead of 'paramount importance' says France's sports minister
Despite widespread cancellations of major sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is of "paramount importance" that the Tour de France goes ahead, says France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu.
The global coronavirus outbreak has reaped havoc with the world of cycling with all races in Europe scheduled for the next month cancelled as a way to try to prevent the disease from spreading but, as it stands, the Tour de France is still in the diary.
Reports in France suggest the Tour, which is still scheduled for June 27 - July 19, could still go ahead with a stripped back set-up that safeguards the health of the riders and spectators.
France’s sports minister Maracineanu has defended the importance of the event as all other sport across the globe, including the Olympic Games in Tokyo, fall foul to the deadly pandemic.
"We are in contact with [race organisers] ASO,” Maracineanu told France Inter radio, while talking about the Olympic Games and other sports. "It is of paramount importance that these events can be held."
ASO have been tight-lipped about the chances of the Tour going ahead, with race director Christian Prudhomme saying recently: "Only two world wars have stopped the Tour de France.
"It is still more than a hundred days until the start of the Tour. The hunger for the race will be immense once activities are resumed."
Among those to have been called off have been the Giro d'Italia, Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo, while France, like other European countries, is under a strict lockdown that also stops professional riders training outdoors.