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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Amid mass sporting event cancellations across the United States, officials at the UCI mountain bike world championships have postponed racing Friday in observance of the national day of prayer and remembrance called for by President Bush. All races scheduled for Friday have been moved to Sunday, creating an extremely full slate of racing that will start with the men’s junior cross country at 8:30 a.m., and conclude with the elite men’s cross country at 4 p.m.
“Just as everyone has been extremely supportive of us continuing with the competition aspect of these championships, they have been equally supportive of our decision not to race tomorrow,” said Vail Valley foundation president Ceil Folz in a prepared statement.
The decision to continue with the world championships is a departure from what nearly all of America’s mainstream sporting institutions have decided. Already the National Football League, Major League Baseball and college football have called off all their scheduled games this weekend.
“We still think we’re in a different situation,” said John Dakin, chief of press at the competition in Vail. “The United States is just one of 41 countries here to compete. We’ve had a lot of input from a lot of different sectors and they’re supporting us in moving forward. Of course we’re watching the situation closely and we’ll make the most appropriate decision we can.”
Following the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Wednesday’s scheduled slate in Vail was postponed until Thursday, when the team relay event was contested in front of a typically-light, mid-week crowd. Event organizers also called off all festival activities scheduled for the week and conducted a subdued opening ceremonies Wednesday night.
Friday there is a prayer vigil set for noon at the Vail finish-area stadium, and all teams and officials have been encouraged to attend. Organizers have also invited members of the Vail community.
The schedule for Saturday remains the same for now with all downhill racing set to commence at 10:30 a.m., followed by the dual under the lights at 7 p.m.