(REUTERS) – The Giro d’Italia, which was due to start in Budapest, has been postponed after the Hungarian government’s move to declare a state of emergency in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, race organisers RCS Sport said on Friday (March 13).
Cycling’s first Grand Tour of the season was scheduled to start on May 9 in the Hungarian capital – the first time the prestigious race was to depart from eastern Europe.
“The organising committee of the Giro d’Italia’s Hungarian stages declared the Giro’s start could not be held in Hungary at the originally scheduled time,” a statement said.
“All parties have agreed that they are determined to work together to enable the Giro d’Italia to depart from Hungary at a later time.”
As well as the opening time trial through Budapest’s historic centre, two more stages were scheduled in the country before the race swung back to Italy.
In a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Hungary has prohibited the organisation of mass events.
No revised start date or location for the race has been announced, with a decision not expected before April 3.
Italy is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 1,000 people in the country and prompted the government into restricting movement until at least April 3.
All sporting events have been suspended in Italy, including the Serie A soccer league, because of the coronavirus outbreak and cycling has been hit especially hard. Already the Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico races have been cancelled.
Giro race director Mauro Vegni was quoted by Cycling Weekly as saying: “We are waiting for the end of this month to understand what will happen.
“In my opinion there will be a complete review of the whole year, for all activities. It is a complicated moment.”
Earlier this week the president of cycling’s governing body the UCI, David Lappartient, said it would be a “disaster” for the sport if the Giro or Tour de France were cancelled.
The Tour de France is due to begin on June 27 in Nice.
On Friday the Paris-Nice race was shortened by a stage, with the final stage to Nice on Sunday being cancelled.
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