The organisers of the 2021 Tour de France Grand Depart in Copenhagen have confirmed to Danish broadcaster DR that the Tour organisers ASO have sent a request to shift the dates of the Grand Depart in an attempt to resolve a conflict with the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Olympic Games were postponed in March, moving to July 23 to August 8, 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the IOC and Japanese organisers hit with an estimated $2.7 billion in costs to reschedule. The elite men's road race is now scheduled for July 24, 2021, which clashes with the finish of the 2021 Tour de France, due to end on June 25th.
The Tour de France opening time trial in Copenhagen followed by two additional road stages in Denmark is scheduled for July 2-4.
"I can confirm that we have received a request from the Tour de France management that they would like to discuss the contracted dates they have with us for when the Tour should start Denmark in 2021," Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen and chairman of the board of the local organising group said to DR.
While Jensen would not specify the new dates the ASO are requesting, it is probable that they would be requesting earlier dates to allow riders to travel from France to Tokyo in time for the road events.
However, the weeks before the originally planned Grand Depart dates are already full of matches of the European Football Championships.
If the race were to shift one week earlier, the new dates - June 25, 26 and 27 - would fall just ahead of the planned 1/8 final football match in Copenhagen on June 28.
The Copenhagen organisers already had worries that the planned 2021 Tour de France dates and the UEFA championships would strain the city's resources by being so close together. Moving the Tour earlier would sandwich the Tour stages in between two football matches.
"When you have a contract with one other, and one says they have some challenges with the contract, then of course you have to talk together. This is where we start, also because we have also approached the Tour de France management in the past because we had some challenges with football. Now they are the ones who approach us," says Frank Jensen.
The contract with Copenhagen, Jensen says, is very specific on the dates, July 2-4, 2021. The negotiations to host the Tour three days after the final match were already difficult. Moving the Tour in between the June 21 and June 28 matches will take even more effort.
"Now that we have mastered the football and settled on the dates, it obviously presents big problems if the dates have to be moved around," Jensen said.
Jesper Møller, chairman of the Danish Football Union said he is willing to discuss a reschedule but emphasised that the dates are set by the UEFA.
"If the Mayor of Copenhagen asks us if we want to take a look at it, then of course we are looking at it, Møller said. "[However], it is UEFA's tournament, it is UEFA's matches, and from UEFA's point of view, the match programme is firm."
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