French sports minister proposes that the Tour de France could be run without spectators

All television, no tifosi?

March 26th, 2020 by | Posted in News | Tags: , ,

Cycling is banned in France right now because of the COVID pandemic, and the Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed until next year, but the Tour de France scheduled for June 27 to July 19 has yet to be cancelled. On Thursday French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said that the Tour de France could be run without spectators, but watched on TV by millions.

Maracineanu told France Bleu radio, “We have [imposed spectator bans] for other competitions before,” pointing out that running the race behind closed doors, “won’t have the same [financial] impact because the business model of the Tour doesn’t depend on ticket sales like football or rugby”. Television revenue is what drives the Tour.

However, Maracineanu wanted to let everyone know that it’s just an idea being floated: “There’s a time for everything. We have a more urgent fight, it’s still too early to decide [to go ahead]. Let’s put all our effort into climbing that mountain before tackling the next one.”

It’s a curious notion that riders in the greatest cycling race on earth could beat on without crowds “shouting down their ears” in the immortal words of Phil Liggett, but anyone who has watched some of the WorldTour’s less prestigious races in the last few years can conceive it.

Whither the publicity caravan that proceeds the race, flinging goodies to the crowd–will the race suffer from that loss of income?

The Giro d’Italia that was slated for May 5-29 has been cancelled but the Vuelta a España is still planned for August 15 to September 9.