Will the sport change its plans for the summer? As the seventh wave of the Covid-19 epidemic looms over France and Europe, the bit of air we thought had disappeared from tests, health protocols and meters is back on the table.
France has seen a very strong uptick in new cases, with 147,248 new cases reported Tuesday by health authorities, or 54% more than a week ago, the highest level since late April.
The government calls for caution, and in particular to put the mask back on transport, are increasing. Just like the nursing staff’s fear of feeling overwhelmed again.
In this context, deprived of the public, forced into polls and strict health protocols for two years, the sport doesn’t really know which foot to dance on. Still, the trend seems somewhat calmer as several major events are underway – Wimbledon, from June 20 to July 10 – or about to kick off: the Tour du France, from June 1.er to 24 July and the Women’s Football Euro, from 6 to 31 July in England.
A brief overview of this sporting cacophony.
The Tour de France relaxes the rules… To the chagrin of the riders
The Grand Départ is given on Friday 1er July, in Copenhagen (Denmark). The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Tuesday relaxed its protocol on positive cases of riders or team members. The most important measure? A runner who is positive for Covid but asymptomatic will not automatically be forced to retire, unlike what we have seen in the Tour de Suisse (about 40 cancellations due to positive tests). “A measure of common sense”said the director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme. “We saw in the last Tour de Suisse that Aleksandr Vlasov, who won a stage, behaved like a charm and returned home when, had he not done a test, he might have won the Tour de Suisse…”he told West France†
Everything will be done on a case by case basis and on medical advice. The rule that allowed the organizer to withdraw from its race any team with two or more runners presenting positive Covid-19 PCR tests within seven days will also be abandoned.
Still, Covid cases are on the rise. French champion Florian Sénéchal, who was not in the Quick-Step’s initial list, was finally retained on Tuesday, following on from Tim Declercq’s pack, who tested positive. A contradiction that does not cringe without some runners.
“Boarding a crowded plane for the Grand Départ while 90% of the passengers are not wearing a mask. First stress test. Round is on “ Romain Bardet (Team DSM) joked in a tweet on Tuesday.
At Wimbledon, business… And it’s war
At the London tournament, it was decided to appeal to everyone’s common sense in this area, following the example of a British government who was very quick to advocate for alleviating health problems. No test imposed, not even with symptoms. The decision is up to the players, who can therefore ill participate in the meetings.
The problem is that not everyone is on the same wavelength. Croatian Marin Cilic, Rafael Nadal’s potential opponent in the round of 16, withdrew after developing symptoms and testing positive. On Tuesday, it was Italian Matteo Berrettini, a 2021 finalist and tipped against Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, who withdrew for the same reason. “It is heartbroken to announce that I have to withdraw from Wimbledon due to a positive test for Covid-19”he wrote on Instagram.
This necessarily lightens up the table area of the Majorcan, who could very well win the tournament through consecutive shots.
This has especially fueled the controversy between the “pro-tests” and the anti. The French Alizé Cornet was the first to set the gunpowder on fire. “At Roland Garros (from May 22 to June 5), there was an outbreak of Covid-19 and nobody talked about it. In the locker room everyone got it and we said nothing., dropped the French number 1 at a press conference after her first-round victory against Kazakh Putintseva. The Habs then tried to calm things down on Twitter. “I said I suspected a few cases of Covid during Roland-Garros, without any evidence. It was mainly to emphasize that the virus was now part of our lives and we had to deal with it. Point beam. †
According to a source close to the Paris Grand Slam with whom AFP has contacted, three cases of Covid-19 were identified during the 2022 edition. This does not rule out possible other tests carried out outside the oversight of the tournament.
Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, 47e worldwide, also gave it a low. † I only go for a test when I feel I need to do one. If you panic when three drops come out of your nose, it’s complicated.”he launched, a little accusingly, in comments from The team †
Despite these cases, and the atmosphere that is not looking good between the players, the British Grand Slam organization remains confident and confirmed on Tuesday night that it would not strengthen protocols for the rest of the competition. The 2022 edition is not completely free of this, Wimbledon reminded AFP: more cleaning on the tournament grounds, numerous distributors for hand disinfection, medical care for everyone “not feeling well”†
Final question: The unvaccinated Serbian Novak Djokovic, who was banned from the Australian Open for this reason after an incredible week in January, trained this week with Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini, as did Rafael Nadal. The two players, it seems, have no plans to back off.
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Rugby still hit, the Women’s European Championship without rules
The XV of France and the Covid-19, it has almost become a slogan. We remember the health bubble that burst in Rome during the 6 Nations Tournament in 2021, the absence of Fabien Galthié, the coach, for this year’s tournament opening against Italy…
Last week, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced that two players, Aymeric Luc and Max Spring, as well as two members of the Tricolor staff, Shaun Edwards and Laurent Labit, tested positive a week before the first test match against Japan. (July 2nd). Negative on Saturday, the two rearguards were able to join the rest of France’s XV in the land of the Rising Sun. The quarantine on site was also lifted on Sunday due to a lack of cases. But is the threat really behind the Blues?
Other teams have also been affected: England, who lost their winger Jonny May, who tested positive on his arrival in Australia, as are the All Blacks, who are without their coach Ian Foster, their assistant John Plumtree and two players, David Havili and Jack Goodhue, for the first test match against Ireland. Current anti-Covid rules in New Zealand require people who test positive for up to seven days of isolation from the day symptoms were discovered.
And what about the Women’s Euro? The edition, which has been postponed for a year due to the pandemic, will take place in England from 6 to 31 July. As for Wimbledon, the rules should be the same as those of the British government, even though several players have already tested positive.