LONDON (Reuters) - Cycling’s world governing body the UCI said on Thursday it was furloughing its entire staff, either fully or partially, in a bid to “weather the storm” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
With international racing suspended until at least June 1 and revenue streams drying up, the UCI held an emergency meeting last week in which a series of measures were agreed to alleviate the economic and sporting impact of the crisis.
Senior management and elected UCI officials have agreed to salary reductions while 130 UCI employees will be furloughed.
Other measures agreed include the reimbursement of all calendar registration fees for cancelled events in a “show of solidarity” for organisers.
"Calendar fees represent a significant part of the UCI's revenue. This initiative will have consequences on the UCI’s financial results," a statement here said.
A working group comprising of riders and teams representatives has also been established.
“The UCI and its partners have agreed on the framework that will enable teams facing serious financial difficulties to be able to take necessary measures so they can continue in the context of the pandemic,” the UCI said.
Road and mountain bike disciplines have been hardest hit by the suspension of racing with the Giro d’Italia, the year’s first Grand Tour, having been postponed.
Many races have been cancelled while others such as the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege have been postponed, as has the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-country World Championships in Germany.
The UCI World Championships for BMX has been pushed back although the UCI said it hoped the road world championships, scheduled for Switzerland in September, could still go ahead.
Despite the financial hit to its finances caused by the disruption of the calendar, the UCI believes it can emerge from the crisis with limited damage as long as the situation does not last longer than current predictions.
“Inactivity is hitting athletes, teams, organisers, partners and the large majority of people and organisations that contribute to the vitality of our sport, across all its disciplines,” UCI President David Lappartient said.
“It’s a time for the cycling family to rally and, as one, prepare our sport to recover from this health and economic crisis that it has been hit by.
“Each of us is called on to be united, responsible and strong. That is why the UCI has taken some drastic action that should enable it to weather the storm.”
The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were reported to have exceeded 1.47 million globally and the death toll crossed 87,700, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris