Coronavirus: Giro d'Italia postponed after Hungary rules out hosting first three stages

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The Giro d'Italia has been postponed after Hungary said it was no longer prepared to host the first three stages.

Organisers RSC Sport confirmed the race would not begin as scheduled on May 9.

Friday's announcement has long seemed inevitable, with Italy having been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. As of Friday, the country has seen 15,113 confirmed cases and 1,016 deaths.

A statement from RSC Sport said: "Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency which prohibits the organisation of mass events and makes it impossible to organise international events.

"Consequently, the organising committee of the Hungarian stages of the Giro d'Italia declared the impossibility of hosting the start of the 'race for pink' in Hungary on the dates initially scheduled.

"The two sides reiterated their determination to work together to allow the Giro d'Italia to depart from Hungary at a later date.

"Given the national and international situation, RCS Sport announces that the start of the 2020 Giro d'Italia is postponed.

"The new date will be announced no earlier than April 3 when the provisions of the prime ministerial decree of March 4 2020 end, and after the organisation has dealt with the government, local and territorial authorities and Italian and international sport institutions."

The race had been due to begin in Budapest and end on May 31 in Milan.

Hungarian politician Mariusz Revesz, a government commissioner, revealed earlier on Facebook the news that the country would not be taking up its chance to host the early stages of the prestigious race.

He wrote: "Due to the serious epidemic situation in Europe, it will not be possible to organise the first three phases of the Giro d'Italia in Hungary in May 2020, the Grande Partenza.

"Over the past three weeks, there have been several meetings between Hungarian and Italian organizers, and the Hungarian organising committee has repeatedly stated that competition should not endanger the safety and health of Hungarian people.

"Unfortunately, in Italy, the epidemic has become more severe day by day, and the number of illnesses and casualties has continued to rise, with the result that the Italian government has announced a nationwide quarantine.

"Meanwhile, the virus has reached Hungary, and in order to curb the epidemic, the Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency, which prohibits the organisation of more popular sports events and makes it impossible to organise international events."