UAE Tour final stages cancelled due to two 'suspected' coronavirus cases

Riders including four-time Tour de France winner took to Twitter to say they were confined to their hotel rooms

Israel Start-Up Nation competes in the 2020 UAE Tour. Rudy Barbier second to left. (photo credit: BETTINI PHOTO)
Israel Start-Up Nation competes in the 2020 UAE Tour. Rudy Barbier second to left.
(photo credit: BETTINI PHOTO)
The two final stages of the 2020 UAE Tour were canceled by the cycling’s governing body Union Cycliste Internationale after two Italian “staff members” on the tour were suspected of contracting the coronavirus.
The tour, featuring 140 of the sport’s biggest stars as well as an Israel-based cycling team called Israel Start-Up Nation was brought to a screeching halt following the two viral tests which were given “in the interests of the health of riders and their staff.”
The W Abu Dhabi and the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, both on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, said they had been placed under lockdown as authorities screened all guests over concerns they might have interacted with the Italians.
“This means that no one can leave or enter the property until it is deemed safe to do so,” said a spokesman for the W Abu Dhabi said.
On Thursday, riders including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome took to Twitter to say they were confined to their hotel rooms. “We are all awaiting testing and will remain in the hotel until further notice,” Froome posted.
UAE authorities reported the positive diagnosis of the Italians on Thursday.
But cycling’s governing body UCI said the two cases of the illness among two staff members of one of the participating teams were only suspected ones. It was not immediately clear which of the two hotels the Italians were staying at. One of them was accommodating participants in the race and the other the media following it.
Other people who also interacted with the two Italians on Yas Island have been isolated at home, UAE state news agency WAM said, citing the health department of Abu Dhabi.
The health department said that 167 people isolated on the island had tested negative for the virus and that remaining test results would emerge in the next few hours, according to WAM. It did not give the total number of people being screened.
The UAE tour is the Middle East’s largest professional cycling event, being the only one that takes place in the region as a part of the World Tour. Israel Start-Up Nation was one of 19 professional teams competing in this year’s competition. The event marked the first time an Israel-based team received an invitation to participate in the prestigious Middle East tour – even though the UAE holds no formal diplomatic relations with Israel. As a World Tour competitor, Israel Start-Up Nation got an automatic bid to compete.

Reuters contributed to this report.