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The Tour de France may still take place this summer

Joe Robinson
26 Mar 2020

The French government and ASO are looking at options including racing without any crowds

The Tour de France could still take place this summer despite the coronavirus pandemic, or so says the French government. So far, every major sporting event for the summer of 2020 has been postponed including the Tokyo Olympics, Giro d'Italia and football's European Championships.

The only event yet to concede defeat is the Tour.

That is because the French Ministry for Sport and race organiser ASO are currently trying to formulate a plan as to how the race could still start in Nice on Saturday 27th June before ending in Paris on Sunday 19th July.

The solution, although in its early stages, is to run the entire three weeks of racing throughout France without any fans on the roadside and to ask everyone to watch from home, as French minister Roxana Maracineanu explained to France Bleu earlier this week.

'The economic model of the Tour de France is not based on ticketing but on TV rights,' continued Maracineanu. 'In this period of confinement, everyone is aware and responsible.

'Everyone understood the benefits of staying at home and therefore favouring the television show rather than the live show. Finally, it would not be so penalising since we could follow Le Tour on television.'

ASO already has some experience of running a cycling race that is cut off to spectators with its organisation of Paris-Nice earlier in the month.

The one-week French stage race was the final high profile cycling race to take place and, despite criticism, continued on until its penultimate stage.

It did so with stricter measures on social distancing, notably banning spectators for the start and finishes of stages.

The Tour, however, would be a completely different kettle of fish on a much grander scale and the logistics of making sure spectators do not line any of the thousands of kilometres ridden could prove quite tricky.

Each year, millions from both within France and worldwide flock to the roadside to catch a glimpse of the biggest race in cycling and while the French gendarmerie has in the past prevented spectators from certain stretches of road, doing so for an entire three weeks could prove logistically impossible.

Then, there is also the argument that without roadside fans, is the Tour really worth having? 

Sure, the race and its teams make no money from roadside spectators, but towns and villages who have paid to host the Tour often rely on the financial boost provided by tourists visiting for the race.

Beyond that, there is also the more metaphorical question of what is a sporting event if there is no live crowd there to watch?