February 28, 2020 / 2:59 PM / a month ago

Cycling-UAE coronavirus scare confines Danish champion Morkov to Berlin hotel

BERLIN, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Danish rider Michael Morkov faces an anxious wait alone in a Berlin hotel room to learn if he can compete in the world track championships, after being caught up in fallout from a coronavirus scare in the Gulf.

National champion Morkov, 34, left the UAE Tour on Wednesday and arrived in Berlin on Thursday to begin training for Sunday’s madison event in the Berlin velodrome.

But the Tour was cancelled on Thursday after two staff members of one of the participating teams were suspected of contracting the coronavirus.

The entire UAE peloton, including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, plus staff and officials, were in lockdown in their Abu Dhabi hotel - and Morkov meanwhile was also confined to his hotel room in Berlin where he will undergo tests.

Denmark team spokesman Morten Anderson said Morkov was training alone in his room on rollers.

“He is in good spirits and doing fine, but he’s tired of this situation that he has to be in the hotel,” Anderson told reporters.

“It’s voluntary and we’ve told him not to leave. He would like to go to the track to train but now we are waiting for the UCI and German medical authorities to tell us his status.

“Hopefully we’ll get the answer in a couple of hours.”

Anderson confirmed that Morkov was in the velodrome celebrating with the Danish team pursuit champions on Thursday.

The situation regarding the cancellation of the UAE Tour remained confused on Friday. The previous night, Froome and other riders took to Twitter to say they were confined to their hotel rooms, organisers said two Italian staff members of a team had been tested posititive for novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

But cycling’s governing body the UCI said on Friday that the cases were only suspected ones.

“The UCI confirms that the two final stages of the UAE Tour (23-29 February), which were to be raced Friday and Saturday, were cancelled late yesterday,” the UCI said in a statement.

“...While waiting for the results of tests and their communication, (authorities)... took the decision to interrupt this event in the interests of the health of riders and their staff, and to avoid the virus spreading.”

Riders who were in the UAE Tour also face an anxious wait to find out the results of their tests.

“Depending on the results obtained, these individuals will either be able to leave the country or, if contamination is confirmed, will be placed in quarantine,” the UCI said.

It was “doing everything within its power to ensure the health of riders and people concerned.”

The rapid rise in coronavirus raised fears of a pandemic on Friday, with six countries reporting their first cases, and the World Health Organization warning it could spread worldwide. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by John Stonestreet)

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