The Tour de France, the world’s most famous bike race, will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new dates for the event are now Aug. 29-Sept. 20, according to the French news outlets Franceinfo and BFM.
It’s the latest in a string of high-profile sports event that been rescheduled, such as the French tennis tournament Roland-Garros and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which have been delayed to September 2020 and July 2021, respectively.
The Tour de France was initially scheduled to kick off on June 27 in Nice and end on July 19 in Paris, on the Champs Elysees. The decision to reschedule was taken a day after France President Emmanuel Macron said that all events and festivals gathering large crowds will be banned in France until mid-July. France will be on lockdown until May 11, although many businesses including theaters, restaurants and shops will remain closed.
In recent weeks, the fate of the Tour de France had become the subject of mounting media speculation, with some journalists imagining that the event could take place without the large crowds of spectators.
The Tour de France is followed by millions of fans around the world and is one of the year’s biggest TV event for networks groups, including the French public broadcaster France Televisions, who splurged for the rights, as well as for advertisers. Last year’s race had garnered up to 7 million viewers on a single day (on July 20) on the French pubcaster, according to the Amaury Sport Organization which runs the Tour de France. France Televisions had also paid big bucks for the broadcast rights of the Olympic Games.