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Photo: James Startt

UCI puts freeze on Olympic qualifying, suspends classifications

USA Cycling suspends permits on its sanctioned events until April 5 in response to growing coronavirus emergency.

The international cycling governing body is pumping the brakes on racing.

After more than 100 events have been canceled or postponed in the wake of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, the UCI and USA Cycling each released separate statements Sunday to address the growing health crisis.

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The announcements came following another roiling week for international racing, with cycling events being canceled or postponed across the globe in light of the worsening coronavirus scare. The UCI said the decisions came after a series of emergency meetings going into this weekend.

“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,” said UCI president David Lappartient. “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. The challenges we face in light of the current situation require all members of the cycling family and of the Olympic movement to be innovative, strong and united.”

The UCI stopped short of forcing organizers to cancel their events, but urged them to work in unison with recommendations from national and international health authorities.

The UCI outlined three decrees it said aims at health and safety as well as fairness when it comes to rankings and qualifications, especially for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The three main points are the following:

  • The UCI requests organizers “to cancel any cycling event on the UCI International Calendar in territories identified at risk by the WHO,” which includes just about every nation on earth.
  • “Suspension of all classifications for all events on the UCI international calendar, across all disciplines, from 15 March 2020 and until further notice but at least until 3 April 2020.” The UCI said it wants to assure sporting fairness, especially in light of racers and teams opting out of recent events while others continued to race.
  • “Qualification period for Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games stopped retroactively as of 3 March 2020,” for mountain bike, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle and para-cycling road, which are still ongoing. That means upcoming scheduled events will not be used for Olympic qualification. Road, track and para-cycling track qualifying have already been completed. The UCI said it wants to “ensure sporting equity when it comes to the awarding of Olympic quotas.”

Read the full UCI statement regarding racing and the Olympics here.

The UCI also said it will consider rescheduling events later this season, but will wait until the health scenario stabilizes before making decisions. A slew of spring races across Italy and Belgium as well as the Giro d’Italia have been canceled, but organizers are hoping to reschedule their races later this season if conditions permit.

USA Cycling went a step stronger, and suspended permits on all of its sanctioned events through April 5.

“USA Cycling is recommending cancellation of all sanctioned events immediately and calling on all race and event directors, clubs, coaches, athletes, and members to postpone or cancel all scheduled races and events immediately. This includes any gatherings such as group rides, in-person group meetings, etc.,” a statement read. “We are suspending permits on all events through April 5th.”