NICE, France (Reuters) – The chances of the Tour de France not being completed because of the COVID-19 crisis are very slim, French sports minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Saturday.
“On every subject, whether it’s the Tour or anything else we have to be able to adapt, to be able to make decisions depending on the situation,” Blanquer told reporters ahead of the first stage.
“That type of thing could happen but of course I hope that it won’t and I think that it won’t because the Tour organisers have done an extraordinary job.
“The chances (of the Tour not reaching Paris) are very slim.”
The number of daily cases in France has been rising steadily in recent weeks, casting a menacing shadow over the three-week event which is starting nine weeks later than originally scheduled.
French health authorities on Saturday introduced stricter regulations for exclusions from the Tour in the event of coronavirus cases.
They ruled that a team should be withdrawn if two or more of its members — including riders and support staff — tested positive within seven days, race organisers said on Saturday.
Until now this year’s race had been operating under International Cycling Union (UCI) guidelines which said teams should be excluded if two or more riders were to test positive over the same period.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon)