The Tour de France is in doubt once again after French prime minister Edouard Philippe said there could be no mass sporting events in the country until September due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a speech on Tuesday during which Philippe announced the 2019-20 football and rugby seasons must be brought to an early close, the country’s prime minister did not specifically mention cycling but said that “events that bring together more than 5,000 participants…cannot be held before September”.
The Tour is currently due to start on August 29 in Nice and conclude in Paris on September 20, having been moved from its original dates of June 27-July 19. That announcement came a day after French president Emmanuel Macron said there could be no mass gatherings in the nation until mid-July.
The Amaury Sports Organisation, which organises the Tour, said it had no comment to make following the prime minister’s address.
Although the latest announcement might leave the door open to the Tour going ahead on the planned dates but with reduced crowds, ASO has previously ruled out the idea of attempting to stage the Tour behind closed doors.
The new uncertainty over the Tour comes as world governing body the UCI is expected to issue a revised calendar for the WorldTour for the remainder of the year.
According to reports, the UCI had been looking to resume the season in early August with at least one race – the Criterium du Dauphine – slated to take place in France prior to the Tour.