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The Tour de France will do away with its traditional pair of podium hostesses, Tour director Christian Prudhomme announced at a press conference Wednesday. Instead, the Tour will have a male host on one side of the podium and a hostess on the other side.
“You used to see the champion surrounded by two hostesses, with five elected officials on one side and five representatives of the partners on the other,” Prudhomme said. “Now, it will be different, with only one elected official and one representative of the partner of the yellow jersey, as well as a hostess and a host for the first time.”
“Yes, it’s new but we have already been doing it in other races for 20 years, like in Liege-Bastogne-Liege,” Prudhomme said.
In 2019, a petition stating that “women are not objects nor rewards” called for an end the sexist practice. It gathered 38,000 signatures. Other sports have eliminated similar roles within podium ceremonies and elsewhere. In 2018, F1 stopped the practice of using “grid girls,” who had been a longtime presence at the start of races.
The question of podium kisses remains unanswered, and Prudhomme did not address the topic. Coronavirus will eliminate the practice for now, at least.
Tour organizer ASO announced a series of additional health-related requirements at the press conference.
Prudhomme noted that roadside spectators at the Tour will be expected to wear masks, regardless of the rules set forth in any particular region. France, at this time, does not have a nationwide mask requirement.
The team presentation in Nice on August 27 will allow 1,750 people to attend, a figure that may be revised downward. A COVID “cell” of 15 people will work throughout the race, in conjunction with local health authorities, and a mobile screening laboratory will be present throughout the Tour, with test results available within two hours.
The racers will undergo two tests ahead of the race and one on each rest day, and will exist within “bubbles,” which forbid contact with outsiders.
The total number of people at the race will decrease as well. Normally, the entire Tour entourage includes about 5,000 people, from organization staff to media to sponsors. This year, that will be closer to 3,000. All TV commentators will be off the race, most in Paris. Access to the team busses will be prohibited to media.
And, finally, the Tour is considering a ban on selfies. Which would be fine.