Based on the assessment made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the current situation related to the COVID-19 epidemic, and the restrictive measures taken by a number of countries within Europe and beyond prohibiting, in particular, gatherings and movement of people, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today announces a series of decisive measures with the aim of ensuring the maximum protection of health of all those involved in cycling events and sporting equity between participants.
Not wishing to contribute to the spread of the virus and with the aim of ensuring sporting equity in its competitions, the UCI, after several crisis meetings held at the end of last week and over the weekend, has taken the following measures:
- The safety of athletes being a priority mission of the UCI, organisers are expressly requested to cancel any cycling event on the UCI International Calendar in territories identified at risk by the WHO;
- Suspension of all classifications for all events on the UCI International Calendar, across all disciplines, from 15 March 2020 and until further notice but at least until 3 April 2020. By freezing the points during the period indicated, the UCI is preserving sporting equity for the athletes;
- With regard to the qualification procedure for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which has been completed for road, track and para-cycling track but is still ongoing for mountain bike, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle and para-cycling road, the UCI has taken the decision to ask respectively to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that the qualification period is stopped retroactively as of 3 March 2020. Here again, with this strong decision, the UCI ensures sporting equity when it comes to the awarding of Olympic quotas.
These important decisions are guided by the desire of cycling’s world governing body to ensure, as far as possible, the health security of cyclists, teams, organisers, partners, media and all concerned people, including the public, as well as fair competitions for athletes and their teams (commercial, and national in the case of the Olympic Games). Concerning the UCI International Calendar, the UCI has registered to date over one hundred postponement and cancellation requests, and the list is growing daily. For when it comes to professional road cycling, the UCI consulted with the bodies representing the organisers (AIOCC), teams (AIGCP) and riders (CPA).
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 (11 May 2020 for BMX Freestyle, 27 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 3 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.
Concerning requests for postponement of events, the UCI will communicate at a later stage the possible reallocation of new dates, according to the possibilities offered by the UCI International Calendar but without any guarantee.
In addition, concerning UCI staff, we have taken measures conforming to the Swiss Federal Council’s new directives adopted on 13 March 2020. We have therefore decided to close the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) buildings in Aigle, which house our Federation’s headquarters, to the public. For the 120 staff members working for the UCI and the UCI WCC we have put in place a business continuity plan by activating home office work from Tuesday 17 March 2020.
Finally, the UCI repeats that it places its full confidence in the competent authorities to contain the spread of the virus, and for its part continues to play its role as the governing body for cycling for our sport’s families with the dual priority of health protection and sporting equity. In this period of uncertainty, the International Federation will continue to monitor the situation closely and to take appropriate measures in the interests of our sport. It calls on the solidarity of everyone to get through these difficult times.
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.”