The Rotterdam Six-Day has been called off two weeks before its scheduled start because of the measures imposed by the Dutch government to stem the rise of COVID-19 cases.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a three-week partial lockdown on November 12 after the country set a new record of COVID-19 cases with 20,000 new infections in one day. The count has since risen to 23,000 on November 22, double last year's December peak.
The measures prohibit professional sporting events from having spectators, and bars and restaurants are forced to close at 8 p.m., among other restrictions.
Protests against the restrictions last week erupted into what Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb called "an orgy of violence". According to the Associated Press, Rotterdam police opened fire on the crowd, injuring two and arresting 51.
Erika Bronkhorst, the Manager of Events Rotterdam Ahoy, the velodrome which planned to host the Six-Day, said it would be impossible to organise the event under the restrictions. "After the announced measures, we have re-examined all possible scenarios, Bronkhorst said. "However, due to the current measures, we are not allowed to organize the event, and how that will be after December 4 is still highly uncertain.
"We have to decide to cancel the event. The construction of the event will start in a week and a half, we can't wait any longer. Visitors, partners and sponsors will remain in uncertainty for too long."
The organisers were in full swing preparing for the Six-Day, which Bronkhorst said, "This feels like a slap in the face, because until two weeks ago there was no question of canceling the event. We went for it and were really looking forward to it. A great edition was planned with a strong field of participants, the top Dutch sprinters and a new rhythm with the final day on Sunday. Unfortunately, a full and responsible edition of the Rotterdam Six-Day can not take place this year. But we are now looking ahead to 2022, in which we will continue these ambitions."
The Six-Day is not the only event troubled by the lockdown - the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Rucphen on December 18 may be forced to put on the race without spectators if the restrictions are not repealed.
COVID-19 cases have surged across Europe, with the Gent Six-Day held last week with a reduced number of spectators and no beer sales inside the velodrome.
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