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Spring has sprung and therefore it is the right time for another edition of the UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE World Cup in Nové Město na Moravě. After last year's edition which was logically postponed to a later date in autumn and in the end took place in an intimate atmosphere without spectators, everybody was looking forward to a vibrant event with a traditional buzz on May 14 - 16, 2021. That means with packed grandstands and a fantastic atmosphere. However, the current pandemic situation is still not favourable for mass public events, so it is rather operated with a variant of an event closed to the public. How are the preparations going and what are the possible scenarios?

Petr Vaněk, Leader of the Organizing Committee, patiently explains: “The situation is definitely not simple. And most importantly: it is impossible to predict how it will develop. Last year, when our country closed everything mid-March, within the next 2 months we were already able to start loosening the safety measures. If the same course occurred this year, in May we could maybe welcome at least a limited number of spectators in the Vysočina Arena. Clearly, this year we will not be able to host the traditional number of 15,000 spectators in our grandstands, but even a few thousand fans would be better than last year's quiet scenario. It would surely help to build the atmosphere a bit. Nevertheless, as I already mentioned - this year the situation is different, there are more infected people, and therefore we can't compare to 2020."

With regard to the current pandemic situation at the end of March, the organizing team assumes as the most probable scenario that the event will be held without spectators, similarly to the autumn of 2020. "Yes, now it looks like that. We must particularly emphasize the sporting importance of our race which is indisputable. We are the last race before the closing of the Olympic qualification, many athletes will time their form for the two World Cups in Albstadt and Nové Město to gain the necessary points and fight their way to Tokyo. That is why we want to ensure a fair sports competition and a safe course for all participants, as well as for all residents of the Vysočina region, so that no one feels limited or endangered by our event. For this reason, we will make sure that all safety measures are met, and we also count on testing the participants of the event so that everything is flawless."

The organizing team together with the National Sports Agency is preparing instructions to the racing teams for a smooth May arrival in the country despite the ongoing lockdown in the Czech Republic. In the coming days, these instructions will be published on the website / and sent out via traditional communication channels of UCI as well as LOC.

Other ideas come into consideration from the organizing team: for example, free entry to the arena for the vaccinated citizens, who should be many in the Czech Republic in May. "This is how the American SuperBowl took place this year: the event for 25,000 spectators was provided to the vaccinated healthcare professionals, free of charge, as a form of thank you for the highly valued care provided during the pandemic," Vaněk explains. Even Czech medical staff, teachers or seniors who will get vaccinated before the event, would certainly like to take the opportunity, and enjoy a sporting event of the highest importance after a long year of fasting. However, it will depend on the development of the situation in the coming weeks plus on the opinion of the Ministry of Health, the Vysočina Region, and the town of Nové Město na Moravě, with whom the organizers are in close contact. However, it is now more about ideas and speculations, the final shape of the event will become clearer in the coming weeks.

For the fans and spectators, it is important to add the information about tickets which were already purchased earlier. "Many of our fans have purchased tickets for 2020 edition of our event and could not use them – obviously, these tickets remain valid! If there was a possibility to invite this year some audience to the premises of Vysočina Arena, we would address the holders of these valid tickets with an offer for preferential entrance. However, if it will be necessary to organize the event without spectators once again, we will extend the validity of these tickets until next year. Our contract for organizing the World Cup in 2022 schedules the event for May 13 – 15, 2022. By that time, the situation with covid-19 shall be already under control so we hope that we will be able to finally proceed with a fully-fledged event open for all," concludes Petr Vaněk his summary.