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Last weekend, a new variant of COVID-19 believed to have originated in South Africa was found in Ostend, Belgium, the site of the 2021 UCI World Cyclocross Championships.
The emergence of the new strain of coronavirus called into question the possibility of worlds being canceled, however, the Flemish Minister of Sport Ben Weyts, the UCI, Belgian Cycling, and the city of Ostend all have assured that the world championships will take place in the safest conditions — with additional COVID testing and increased health and safety measures — even if “behind closed doors.”
“To ensure that everything runs smoothly and above all safely, a lot of measures were taken on and around the course. All those present are subjected to corona tests. The test strategy consists of a mix of regular PCR tests and rapid tests, this strategy was agreed with the virologists discussed and checked the content,” said event organizer Rik Debeaussaert.
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“We strictly follow all measures on-site to keep it corona-safe for everyone. Regardless of how unfortunate it is, I would like to urge everyone not to come by, but to fully enjoy it from the living room,” Debeaussaert added.
Teams will be required to self-confine to “bubbles,” fans are asked to stay home, and even pedestrian traffic will be directed with signage.
“The contact between those bubbles is reduced to an absolute minimum by means of specific flows and signposted walking directions,” reports Sporza. “The number of attendees was also reduced to a minimum from the start. The measures are even stricter than described in the current protocol. In this way, the organization wants to prevent any spread of the virus within the boundaries of the course.”
Last month, in an effort to reduce risk the UCI announced that no junior events would be contested at the world cyclocross championships.
Earlier this week Italian Fabui Aru unexpectedly withdrew from the event. The Italian cycling federation, UAE Team Emirates, and Aru have not yet provided an explanation for the withdrawal.