In Italy, as in China first as well as in other countries, the coronavirus has created an emergency that is forcing people to change their habits and their lifestyles in a sudden yet all too necessary way. Everyone has been asked to make some sacrifices, for the greater good. This includes sportsmen and women.
Sport has come to a stop
In Italy, all professional and amateur competitions, of all sporting disciplines, have been suspended until 3 rd April. This is what is laid down in the “Io resto a casa” (I am staying at home) decree, introduced by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on 9 th March. Essentially, this decree obliges citizens not to leave their home except where strictly necessary, in other words for health reasons or to go to work and with a self-declaration certifying this. As regards physical exercise, the decree states: “sports and motor activities performed outdoors, these are permitted solely provided the safety distance of one metre between people can be observed”.
Can we ride our bicycles outside?
In the absence of a specific law that bans runners or cyclists from riding out every day, common sense comes into play. That is to say: it is best to avoid all those activities which could lead to an injury or accident, considering many Italian hospitals are in full emergency mode and in some cases understaffed or with limited beds available. So, how should cyclists behave? Many local federations as well as many professional sportsmen and women and public personas are inviting fans and aficionados to stay at home, at least for a few weeks, and either cycle on indoor rollers or on exercise bikes. Or at least, try to cycle outdoors alone for very quick sessions, within the confines of your municipality and taking all the necessary precautions. So for a while, no group training, short distances and nothing too challenging, considering that prolonged effort can weaken your immune system’s defences.
What is going on in the rest of Europe?
The situation is constantly evolving and it is therefore impossible to forecast what will happen tomorrow, or in a few days’ time. Obviously, all European states are on alert, a championship football match was postponed in England, a few Champions League matches are being played behind closed doors and cycling races scheduled for March, including some great classics, have been cancelled.
Italy was the first European nation to have been hit hard by the coronavirus and it is hoped that the other states will take their cue, and launch restrictive measures before the virus spreads like wildfire. And where no regulations are in force, we hope common sense will prevail, avoiding crowds and gatherings.
Cycling fans will be distressed at not being able to watch the Milano-Sanremo and the Tirreno-Adriatico races, and even more at not being able to train regularly for a while. But all this is for the common good. In such unfortunate circumstances, it is an opportunity to demonstrate common sense and a shared sense of belonging to one big community.