Organisers of the Tour of Oman have confirmed that the 2020 event has been cancelled.
The six-stage event was due to kick off in February with the likes of Mark Cavendish and Elia Viviani expected to race, but has now been called off following the death of Oman’s leader.
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Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the longest-serving ruler in the Arab world, died earlier this month, sparking a 40-day mourning period which includes the cancellation of sporting and music events.
On Wednesday morning a spokesperson for ASO, the company that organises the Tour of Oman and the Tour de France, told Cycling Weekly: “I can confirm that the 2020 Tour of Oman won’t be organised this year.”
The decision follows the announcement by Oman’s Ministry of Tourism that hotels should cancel all festivals, music shows and art events to commemorate the death of Sultan Qaboos.
A statement from the ministry, published on January 16, said: “In reference to the Diwan of Royal Court announcement regarding the mourning period and the flying of flags at half-mast over the forthcoming 40 days, the Ministry of Tourism calls all hotels and tourism establishments and organisations to halt all festivals, art or music shows or any display of festivities or joy which are planned to take place at their facilities during the entire mourning period of 40 days.
“They must also avoid the use of music in any private or public events which are hosted at their properties.”
Sultan Qaboos, who took over the Middle Eastern country in a bloodless coup the support of Britain in 1970, died on January 10 after spending a week in Belgium for medical treatment late last year.
No official cause of death has been given, although reports suggested he may have been suffering from cancer.
Scheduled to run from February 11-16 the Tour of Oman, a 2.Pro category race first held in 2010, has been a popular early-season race for some big name riders, particularly the sprinters owing to the mostly flat terrain.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and André Greipel (Israel Start-up Nation) have both had notable success in the race, and previous general classification winners include Chris Froome (Team Ineos), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and most recently Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).
The race forms part of a month-long racing period in the Middle East, starting with the new Tour of Saudi Arabia, then Oman, and ending with the UAE Tour, the only WorldTour event in the region.