March 15, 2020 / 4:10 PM / 16 days ago

Cycling - UCI seeks retroactive end to Olympic qualifying process

LONDON (Reuters) - Cycling’s governing body (UCI) plans to retroactively use March 3 as the cut-off point for Olympic qualification in mountain bike, BMX Racing and BMX Freestyle as the coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate the sporting calendar.

Road and track cycling have completed their qualification events, the last of which was the Berlin track world championships last month, but riders in the other disciplines had until June 1 to score enough UCI points.

The BMX world championships, a key event for Olympic qualification spots, are still scheduled for Houston on May 30-31. The last qualifying event in freestyle BMX was supposed to be in Hiroshima in April but has been postponed.

The next mountain event to award Olympic qualifying points, in Portugal in April, has been postponed.

With the duration of the ongoing coronavirus crisis unknown, the UCI said basing qualification on March 3 standings was the fairest way to ensure integrity in the process.

“Considering the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus, maintaining the qualification periods initially planned (May 11 for BMX Freestyle, May 27 for mountain bike, June 1 for BMX Racing and June 7 for para-cycling) would have resulted in unfairness between nations,” a UCI statement said on Sunday.

“The UCI has therefore decided to propose to the International Olympic Committee (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.

“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.”

The UCI has suspended all cycling events until at least April 3. It has closed its headquarters in Switzerland and asked all its 120 employees to work from home.

UCI President David Lappartient said the sport was taking drastic measures because of the crisis.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond

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