Tour de France 2020

COVID-19 hits the Tour de France press room

Several Spanish journalists leave race after Spanish-language reporter tested positive.

Several Spanish journalists left the Tour de France on Saturday after one Spanish-language reporter tested positive Friday for COVID-19.

According to the Spanish daily AS, a journalist from a media outlet that has not been revealed came down with a fever, and tested positive after visiting the Tour’s mobile lab Friday. The journalist went into self-isolation, left the race, and returned home.

As a result, several journalists from other Spanish media outlets left the race early or had their credentials pulled Saturday. AS reported that its reporters exited the Tour, along with reporters from the national Spanish-language wire service EFE, MARCA, and Spanish television TVE.

According to COVID-19 race rules in agreement with the French health ministry, anyone who had direct contact with an infected person would result in the removal of their Tour credential.

The Tour organization decided to remove the credentials of the Spanish press contingent who might have had dinners or close contact with the infected person and told them to leave the race.

According to Spanish journalists contacted by VeloNews, no follow-up controls on the other journalists were required. Other journalists were notified by email late Friday that their credentials were being removed.

A rash of positive cases inside the Tour pressroom could have resulted in the entire pressroom operation being shut down, according to French health rules. Journalists at the Tour on Saturday said no one from the Tour organization told them about the incident.

The positive test involving the Spanish journalist appears to be the first confirmed case among the press corps that operated under severely reduced access to riders and sport directors during the 2020 edition.

Journalists covering the 2020 Tour were required to have a negative COVID-19 test before being credentialed, but did not undergo additional tests on rest days during the three-week race. The use of facemasks and social distancing were required to work inside the Tour pressrooms, which are typically large congress halls, school gymnasiums, government buildings and occasionally tents.

Throughout the Tour, journalists were limited to a media mixed zone at starts and finishes that kept journalists and riders separated by fencing. The team bus paddock as well as sign-in podium and finish-line approaches were also off-limits under the new rules.

The 2020 Tour ends Sunday after completing its full 21 stages without major disruption despite worries the coronavirus pandemic could derail the race. Four staffers from four different teams as well as Tour director Christian Prudhomme tested positive for COVID-19 on controls conducted on the first rest day, but a second round of tests Monday revealed no positive tests.