In yet another depressing move from the UCI, “unnecessary celebration” has prompted intervention from World Cycling’s most foremost governing body. Through the chaos and constant disruption of last years calendar, there was a constant air of uncertainty – would the next race happen? Will someone in my team be diagnosed with Covid-19 and our whole team have to withdraw? Will the whole season be cancelled outright? The only thing that remained clear was the pursuit and thrill of victory, of a hard-fought race finally won.
What’s the natural response for a sportsman in a team sport when that team rides to victory? Hug your teammates, obviously! A person in a state of celebration is a person in their most natural, unburdened state. That elation that overtakes your body and soul completely when you achieve that which your heart most desires is something truly beautiful to behold. A hug, however, is human interaction. Let’s come crashing back down to earth and back to reality.
All riders competing on the World Tour for the 2021 season are being discouraged from hugging their team-mates after a win on the finish line. Despite the fact that the actual admitted risk of transmission during a huge is very low, UCI Medical Director Professor (not enough titles) Xavier Bigard has called on riders to limit their celebrations on the track.
Hugging on the podium is already outright banned, but the Medical Director Professor has expressed concerns that teams hugging in elation after a victory could set a bad example to viewers when it comes to promoting personal contact. The fact that the risk of transmission is low seems irrelevant. Bigard spoke during a webinar concerning updated UCI Covid-19 medical protocol earlier this week: “In my opinion as a doctor, the risk of being contaminated by this behaviour is not very high. However, the message we have to send around the world and to race spectators is that we have to fight this virus and remind people that it is prohibited to touch other people.”
Of course, it isn’t prohibited to touch other people, but that is the narrative with which the UCI governing body and most national governing bodies world-wide are sticking with. It makes you wonder what the real cost of fighting this virus really is. In the grand scheme of things, a hug shared between team-mates is not such a great sacrifice to make, but it is another example of the apparent lack of trust that the intelligentsia have in the general public at large. It is frustrating. I’m sure that yet another gripe about Covid is more than welcome on this blog. I’m sure you haven’t had enough of talking about it and hearing about it elsewhere. How much of an effect on combatting the coronavirus do you think little adjustments such as banning hugging have?