It's a new blow to the world of sport. While several major events have already been postponed or canceled, it is the turn of the European Athletics Championships to suffer the consequences of the crisis linked to the epidemic of the new coronavirus. In the evening of Thursday, after a meeting of an exceptional Executive Committee held during the day by videoconference, the French Athletics Federation (FFA) and the Paris Athlé 2020 Organizing Committee announced in a press release l 'cancellation of the European athletics championships, which were to take place from 25 to 30 August next in Paris at the Charléty stadium.
“In the context of an unprecedented health crisis and while the risks linked to the pandemic are still far from being controlled, which is more on the fringes of gatherings with the public, Paris Athlé 2020 and the FFA wanted to adopt a responsible position. This decision demonstrates the need to put human health and the fight against the spread of the virus before any other consideration“, we can read in the press release. The option of postponing these European Championships to 2021, as could have been the case for the Olympic Games or the Euro football tournament, was once considered, but was not retained due to “of a 2021 calendar of international competitions more than uncertain“.
“Avoid a grouping of athletes from very diverse backgrounds”
The economic costs inherent in a postponement are also put forward to justify the decision to cancel the competition. For the first time since 1938, France was to host the European Athletics Championships. “The health of all was our main concern, but the sporting aspects of the event and the economic issues were also taken into account in our reflection“, Explain André Giraud, president of the FFA, in the press release.
At a federal office held on April 7, the FFA had already announced that no national competition would be held until the end of July. The press release stated that the objective was “an athletic season running from August to the end of October if the sanitary conditions allow it“. As Jean Gracia, president of the Paris Athlé 2020 Organizing Committee, specifies in the press release, this decision avoids “a large group of people from very diverse backgrounds, both nationally and internationally“.
“We tried everything”
But the regrets are there: “We really tried everything“, explained Jean Gracia.”We all hoped that the situation could improve quickly, unfortunately, this is not the case. We had even asked the medical commission of the French Federation to make an assessment of the measures to be taken to be able to organize the event. We studied all the possibilities, including the possibility of reducing the number of athletes per event or putting one spectator in two.”
While more than a thousand athletes participate every two years in the European Athletics Championships, the sanitary conditions were simply not met for the maintenance of this event.