Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
“COVID-19 is disrupting our plans, but we will continue to lobby,” said UCI sports director Peter Van den Abeele. “The stumbling block, however, remains the IOC charter, which says that any sport that wants to enter the Winter Olympics must be contested on snow or ice.”
Speaking in a roundtable discussion hosted by Wielierflits, Van den Abeele suggested that a World Cup round had been organized specifically to lure the eye of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), only for the event to be one of the many ‘cross races that were shuttered due to the pandemic.
“It’s no coincidence that a round of the World Cup in Villars, Switzerland, at an altitude of 1,300 meters, was on the calendar this season,” he said. “We were hoping for snow to convince Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. Unfortunately, COVID-19 disrupted that.”
Belgian insiders are hoping that the introduction of ‘cross into the Olympic schedule would bring money to a discipline that has been particularly hard hit by the side-effects of the coronavirus crisis. With crowds kept away, many event organizers have been forced to slash appearance fees for all but the top riders.
Cyclocross race organizer Tomas Van Den Spiegel and Tom Van Damme, president of the Belgian cycling association, suggested that there would be increased financial backing for ‘cross riders were it to become an Olympic sport, so bolstering the economy of the sport.
“That is also one of the reasons why mountain biking has gained the upper hand in a number of traditional cross countries,” Van Damme said. “They receive subsidies for mountain biking, but not cyclocross. Athletes who target the Olympics are more likely to receive funding. It is not everywhere like in Belgium that the stars are well paid. In many countries, it is more of a paid hobby.”