February 26, 2020 / 6:03 PM / a month ago

Giro d'Italia at risk as UCI monitors coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Giro d'Italia, Rome, Italy - May 27, 2018 General view as the riders pass the Altare della Patria during the final stage REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Cycling’s governing body the UCI said it could not predict whether this year’s Giro d’Italia will go ahead as the country deals with an escalating coronavirus outbreak.

The Giro begins in Budapest on May 9 and ends in Milan on May 31 with several stages in northern Italy.

Italy is the European country hardest hit by the spread of the virus with one more death and 52 new cases reported on Wednesday, all in the north. The death toll in Italy is 12.

The Milan-San Remo classic on March 21 is already at risk of being cancelled, according to organisers RCS, and with the Giro less than three months away organisers will soon face a dilemma.

A UCI statement on Wednesday said it remains “in close contact with organisers of international cycling competitions and the health authorities of host countries” in order to contribute as far as it can to the limitation of risks of the virus spreading throughout the world.

“The current state of the epidemic naturally has consequences on the organisation of sporting and cultural events in different regions of the world, such as that of events on the UCI International Calendar, for example in Italy,” the UCI said.

“It is not currently possible to predict in the medium term whether competitions in this country will be maintained or cancelled, given the rapidity with which new outbreaks are declared, like yesterday in Tuscany, Sicily and Liguria.

“In the short term on the other hand, decisions to cancel or postpone events have already been taken (last weekend) by regional health authorities, in order to minimise the risks of transmitting the virus which are made greater by travel and human gatherings in confined spaces.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis

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