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Bernal calls for Olympic postponement

Tour de France champion joins tide of voices calling for postponement of Tokyo Olympics as coronavirus crisis deepens.

Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) has joined the voices calling for a re-scheduling of the summer Olympic Games.

“Given the global coronavirus situation, I don’t think the Olympics should be held on scheduled dates,” said the Colombian. “I personally am in favor of a multiple-month postponement and organizing them next year. All we can do now is stay home to tackle the coronavirus. After all, this threat far exceeds the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.”

The 23-year-old’s statements Sunday night via Facebook are the latest in a rising tide of feeling that the Tokyo Games should be re-scheduled as the coronavirus pandemic leaves athletes unable to train, resources stretched, and priorities elsewhere.

Through last week, Dutch and Spanish cycling federations had called for a postponement of the event, scheduled to start July 24. Monday morning, Canada confirmed it would be withdrawing athletes from the 2020 Games, while Australia told its teams to prepare for a 2021 Olympics.

Bernal had started his season with a block of racing on home roads in Colombia, riding the national time trial and road race championships, and then the Tour Colombia, where he finished fourth overall.

After the Colombian races, Bernal had returned to his training base in Europe in anticipation of continuing to build toward a Tour defense and Olympic start. However, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, leading to races through the spring being rescheduled, he decided to return to family in Zipaquira.

Since returning to Colombia Bernal has been following the government requirement to self-isolate for 14 days if returning overseas, and observed advice to be tested for the COVID-19. He confirmed a negative test result on Twitter, Friday, and has been playing out his spell of isolation since then, regularly posting pictures of himself riding his indoor trainer, and urging others to stay inside where possible.