Additional reporting: Ed Spratt
The first Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup has been postponed, according to a press release from the UCI this morning. The decision was made by the UAE, not the UCI, and organizers are working to reschedule the event.
Eliminator was part of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from 2012 to 2014. After a two-year hiatus, it returned in 2017 and has grown from six rounds the first year, to seven rounds in 2018, eight rounds in 2019, and back to seven rounds for 2020. The best way to think of it is as 4X with XC bikes. Four riders, head to head, on courses that are typically between 500m and 1km long, with racing lasting from 1m30 to 2 minutes.
Following an outbreak from the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, the UAE authorities were forced to cancel the first round of the UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup in Dubai. The country’s public authorities have taken the health measures recommended in such circumstances, including cancellation of major sporting events, such as the UCI World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. UCI Guidelines
"The decision has been taken by UAE authorities and was announced earlier this morning to ensure protection of all participants. We are deeply saddened by the news but safety comes at the top of all priorities, as the new coronavirus now appears to be spreading much more rapidly than initially thought.”
Meanwhile, the local organizers are working extremely hard on rescheduling the event, which was initially planned this Friday, March 6th. A further announcement will be made at a later date.
While the UAE, not the UCI, cancelled the eleminator World Cup, the UCI has issued guidelines about any future events that could be affected by COVID-19.
The UCI has officially stated that currently it will not cancel any events but will instead look to introduce a number of regulations on event holders with the hope that it should protect all in attendance. Although the UCI has decided it will not cancel any events at this stage it does not mean that event organisers cannot choose to do so if they wish. The choice to not cancel events and instead place measures on organiser was decided after a meeting held with representatives from "different members of the cycling family - teams, riders and organisers."
In order to not discourage event holders and teams to put safety first, they have stated that they will work to ensure that no team/riders are penalised whether that is financially or when it comes to evaluating their UCI status.
In the document, they have announced some of the steps that will be taken at each event:
• "Increasing the distance between the public and riders, particularly in the start and finish zones"
• "Respecting a strict medical protocol, variable depending on the country, but in any case including a process for dealing with suspected cases and the provision of a detailed map of establishments capable of carrying out diagnostic tests for the coronavirus"
• "Limiting the number of teams staying in each hotel"
• "Respecting certain hygiene measures, for example avoiding the use of the same pen by riders signing in at the beginning of the race"
In a separate statement to event organisers, the UCI states that "any decision taken aims to reduce the risk of infection for riders, team staff, the public and any other person involved in cycling and to prevent cycling from contributing to the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world." Currently, they are contacting teams, riders, organisers and national federations with further details of the measures taken and procedures they should follow.