French sports minister says government still mulling options for 2020 Tour
PARIS (AFP) – After a few days of media reports and rumors that the ASO is considering ways it could still hold the 2020 Tour de France without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic, French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has now weighed in, saying that authorities are mulling a variety of options.
The French government is in talks with Tour organizers about the future of the sport’s biggest event, which draws more than 10 millions fans annually to the roads of France.
The minister said that all options are being considered. That includes postponement or cancellation of the event which has run every year since 1903 with the exception of two periods on hiatus due to the First and Second World War—but at the moment it also includes possibly running the race without roadside fans.
“Everything is imaginable,” Maracineanu told France Bleu radio station on Wednesday, noting that cycling’s ticket-less model makes fan presence less of a financial requirement.
“We have [imposed spectator bans] for other competitions before, even though it won’t have the same impact because the business model of the Tour doesn’t depend on ticket sales like football or rugby.”
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the Euro 2020 football championships has focused attention on the Tour which winds its way for thousands of miles through the towns and villages of France in a wide loop for three weeks ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
“I think that today everybody is aware and responsible about the period of isolation we are going through and everyone knows the reasons and the benefits that it can bring to all,” she said.
“Ultimately, it wouldn’t be so bad because you could still watch it on TV.”
For now, nothing has been decided, as Marcineanu emphasized in a tweet following her interview.
“The Tour is a monument of sport. It is too early to decide,” she wrote. “There is a time for everything. Right now, we have a more urgent battle to fight. Let us dedicate all our strength to this mountain before considering the next.”