The UAE Tour was abandoned Thursday after two Italian staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, with teams and riders reported to be under lockdown in their hotels.
“The remaining stages of the UAE Tour are cancelled after two cyclists from Italy tested positive for the new coronavirus,” said the Abu Dhabi Sport Council in a statement to the official WAM news agency.
Organizers said that all the participants in the race, that had been due to finish on Saturday, will be tested for the virus which hit Italy hardest in Europe.
Italy has seen 650 people infected and 17 deaths.
A total of 24 Italian cyclists started the race in the UAE.
“It’s a shame that the #UAETour has been cancelled but public health must come first,” tweeted British star Chris Froome, a four-time winner of the Tour de France.
“We are all awaiting testing and will remain at the hotel until further notice. I hope those affected make a speedy recovery and there aren’t any further cases #coronavirus.”
With the race abandoned, Briton Adam Yates, who led after five stages, was set to be declared the winner.
“The final two days of racing are cancelled due to concerns around Coronavirus,” tweeted Yates’s Mitchelton team.
“Riders and staff remain in the hotel and will be tested shortly, with their health taking priority. We hope anyone affected makes a fast recovery.”
The United Arab Emirates has so far recorded 13 cases of contamination from the virus.
Thursday’s events in the UAE came just a day after Italian golfers Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli were quarantined in nearby Oman over coronavirus fears before being cleared to play in the country’s European Tour event.
Gagli had suffered flu-like symptoms and as Molinari, the older brother of former British Open winner Francesco, was his roommate, both were forced to withdraw from the tournament and placed in isolation as a precautionary measure.
However, they were then cleared to play after the Oman health ministry reported that Gagli’s test results were negative.
RBA/AFP Photos Bettini