The Giro d’Italia issued a clarification Thursday, saying the 2018 race will start with a stage in Jerusalem, not “West Jerusalem” as stated during Wednesday’s route presentation.
Israel threatened to withdraw its support for the opening stage after the Giro referred to the stage 1 time trial as starting in “West Jerusalem.”
That reference stirred up emotions in the politically charged Middle Eastern country that has been the site of religion conflict for centuries. Tel Aviv is the official capital of Israel in the eyes of the international community, but the Israeli government believes Jerusalem is the capital.
Further, Israel does not see an official distinction between East and West Jerusalem.
The Giro released this statement in response to the “West Jerusalem” controversy:
“RCS Sport would like to clarify that the start of the Giro d’Italia 2018 will take place from the city of Jerusalem.
“During the presentation of the 2018 race course, technical material containing the wording ‘West Jerusalem’ was used, due to the fact that the race will take place logistically in that area of the city.
“That particular wording, devoid of any political value, has been removed from any material related to the Giro d’Italia.”
Israeli officials welcomed the decision.
“Following our appeal to the Giro d’Italia management, we are pleased with their quick decision to remove the caption ‘West Jerusalem’ from the official publications of the race organizers,” sport minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in a joint statement.
In addition to the Jerusalem time trial, the following two opening stages of next year’s Giro will take place in Israel.
It will mark the first time one of cycling’s three grand tours will begin outside Europe.
The other two stages will follow the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Tel Aviv and begin in Beersheba in the Negev desert and end in Eilat on the Red Sea.