By Jonny Long
If the Tour de France is raced in September it will not be behind closed doors, according to the French minister for sport.
Roxana Maracineanu originally suggested the idea of keeping fans away from the French Grand Tour, as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in March. However, with the race now postponed and set to take place between August 29 - September 20, she says spectators should be allowed at the roadside.
"If things continue to improve in September, major events such as Roland Garros and the Tour de France will take place," Maracineanu says. "These two events include spectators. They are not kept behind closed doors."
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe last week said the ban on major sporting events would be extended until at least September, as the world continues to try and halt the transmission of the coronavirus.
Philippe said if the Tour does go ahead some restrictions could be put in place, such as limiting the number of spectators, as was seen at Paris-Nice where buffer zones restricted public access at the start and finish.
"The reality is that we have to take into account how the pandemic will develop. We have no certainty about that," Maracineanu elaborated. "It is too early to make decisions about postponing or canceling the Tour de France. We speak regularly with ASO. It is up to them to tell us when it is necessary to decide."
NTT Pro Cycling's Bjarne Riis has called Dave Brailsford "selfish" after the Ineos boss revealed he would withdraw his team from the French Grand Tour should they deem it not safe.
"I disagree with Brailsford who said last week that they would decide whether it was safe or not," Riis said. "It is not for him to decide on that. Governments and [race] organisers will do that. I know Christian Prudhomme very well. He really won’t run the Tour if it’s not safe."
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