• A cancelled Tour de France will not be the end of the world says French sport minister (Getty)Source: Getty
The French minister for sport Roxana Maracineanu suggested a ban on mass gatherings will extend until September endangering plans for an end of August start to the Tour de France.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AP, Eurosport
24 Apr 2020 - 11:32 AM  UPDATED 24 Apr 2020 - 11:47 AM

Speaking on Eurosport's 'Le Club' on Wednesday night (AEST), Maracineanu said if the ban was extended until September and new dates for the Tour de France (current plans 29 August-20 September) and the French Open (beginning 20 September) could not be found it 'will not be the end of the world.'

"It will undoubtedly be the end of many things which were supported by the revenues from these tournaments and the Tour de France.

"What is certain is that sport will not be a priority in our society. It is not a priority in decisions made by the government today."

Despite also suggesting the mass gatherings ban could remain "until further notice or until we find a vaccine," Maracineanu admitted it is an evolving situation. 

"Obviously a recovery in mid-June is the optimum scenario but there are others."

The Netherlands has also extended a ban on mass gatherings until at least September 1.

Maracineau's remarks may seem blunt but not when weighed against France's battle against the coronavirus with 120,804 confirmed cases and 21,856 deaths to date.

"If there are not enough masks, if as today the tests remain reserved for people who have symptoms....(major events) will not happen," she added.

In mid-April, French president Emmanuel Macron extended event bans until July prompting Tour de France organisers to reschedule the three-week grand tour and cycling's governing body to create a tentative calendar for men's racing.

Tour de France postponed until August 29
The 2020 Tour de France has been postponed until August 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A mass gathering ban in France until September will have broader ramifications for the sport as a whole. 

Maracineanu's remarks come as Vuelta a Espana director Javier Guillen publicly requested the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta not be "devalued" in a new calendar. 

"All with the Tour," Eurosport France quotes Guillen. "But not the Tour to the detriment of all."

"We are all aware of the magnitude of (the Tour de France but) we must also try to save the whole calendar."