Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Wednesday (AEST) that major sporting and cultural events bringing together more than 5,000 participants could not be held before September, as he announced plans for a gradual end of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown from May 11.
Philippe did not specifically mention the Tour de France, which has been postponed to August 29 from its original June 27 start date.
“It is too early to say (how this will impact the Tour) but for now this does not imply a postponement nor a cancellation, but it does not rule out arrangements notably in terms of number of spectators,” a sports ministry spokeswoman said.
The Tour is the biggest event on road cycling’s calendar and the sport’s most lucrative race by far. It was originally scheduled to take place from June 27-July 19 LIVE on SBS.
That was knocked off course by the COVID-19 pandemic, which as of Tuesday had killed 23,293 people in France.
The coronavirus outbreak prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to impose a strict lockdown that includes a ban on any mass gatherings.
Earlier this month, the International Cycling Union (UCI) pushed the Tour back by two months.
With the ban on mass spectator events now due to run until September, Tour organisers could have to hold the first three days of the race with restrictions in place on the number of fans attending.
That would be unfamiliar for an event which prides itself on its unrestricted access for spectators, and where thousands of flag-waving fans, some of them in fancy dress, routinely line the route of Tour stages.