Staging the Tour de France in 2020 vital for the sport, says race director

This year’s Tour de France will now start on Aug. 29 in Nice and finish on Sept. 20 in Paris and will be followed by cycling’s other two major races. (AP file)
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Updated 15 April 2020

Staging the Tour de France in 2020 vital for the sport, says race director

  • One of the world’s most watched events, the cycling race has been rescheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 20

PARIS:  Staging the Tour de France this year despite the novel coronavirus pandemic was vital for road cycling, the race’s director Christian Prudhomme said on Wednesday.

The sport’s governing International Cycling Union (UCI) announced that the Tour, initially due to be held from June 27-July 19, would be staged from Aug. 29-Sept. 20 amid measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“We started to talk about a postponement to the local politicians as soon as March 18 —  a day after France was put in lockdown — and all of them were on board,” Prudhomme told Reuters in an interview.

“Everyone in the world of cycling supported the idea, even those who usually don’t like us. Some teams said they would have to close down without the Tour in 2020.

“The Tour is the base of the revised calendar.”

Sponsors usually invest in cycling teams for the broad TV exposure and the Tour de France is one of the world’s most watched events, after the Summer Olympics and the soccer World Cup.

With no elite racing before August, cycling teams and sponsors have been dramatically hit financially by the coronoavirus, which has infected over 2 million people worldwide and brought the world of sport to a standstill.

The Tour route will remain 99% unchanged with a Grand Depart from Nice and the traditional final parade on Paris’s Champs-Elysees.

“The only thing we might have to change sometimes is when we go through bigger cities,” said Prudhomme, who on Tuesday called 49 local politicians to inform them that the Tour dates had been changed.

The 2020 summer holidays are due to end on Sept. 1 in France, where public events have been banned until mid-July although French president Emmanuel Macron said the confinement would be progressively lifted from May 11.

Asked about potential safety measures due to the coronavirus outbreak, Prudhomme said the Tour organizers would adapt.

“We will follow recommendations, just like we did for Paris-Nice in March. At the start, gatherings of more than 5,000 were banned and after a couple of days we had to adapt because the maximum was 1,000,” he said.

Prudhomme added that earlier dates for the Tour in August had been considered before being ruled out.

“Riders need a couple of months to get ready for an event like the Tour. Four, five or six weeks to train on roads and then we should have a few stage races before the Tour,” he said.

It means the Criterium du Dauphine, a traditional warm-up race for the Tour, is expected to be held sometime in August, Prudhomme said, even if it could be shorter, “maybe five or six days instead of eight.”

“Having the Tour in September is also a better month for the hotel industry,” he added.

Hotels are traditionally packed in August and at least 4,500 people are usually working on the Tour de France, which will be followed by the world championships, Italy’s Giro and Spain’s Vuelta, the UCI said in a statement.

The governing body added it was also working on new dates for the top one-day races — Milan-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour
of Lombardy. 

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Updated 04 December 2020

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

  • The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime,
  • Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay

TOKYO: The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting the massive event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.
But more spending, on top of the previous budget of about $13 billion, could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or canceled together.
“Whether it’s seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.
“We have done all we can to earn the public’s understanding,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900 million in spending on coronavirus countermeasures.
The dollar figures are calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and the total is around $2.56 billion at today’s rate. The costs look set to rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it would also release an additional $250 million in “contingency” funds.

The new spending swells a budget that was set last year at around $13 billion, and will add to disquiet about the cost of the Games after an audit report last year argued the national government was spending significantly more than originally planned.
The extra costs will be split between Tokyo, the organizing committee and the national government. The International Olympic Committee will not be chipping in, but has agreed to waive its sponsor royalty fee for the first time, organizers said.
The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organizing committee staff.
And with organizers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.
Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control center in the Olympic Village.
Organizers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280 million in spending.
And on Thursday, they said 18 percent of Olympic tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.

Organizers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.
But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancelation.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.
“If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.
“There’s a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it.”
Tokyo 2020’s final price tag has been hotly disputed, with an audit report last year estimating the national government spent nearly 10 times its original budget between 2013-2018.
Organizers countered that the estimate included items not directly related to the Games.