Bernal among up to 150 Colombian athletes who will fly to Europe

Bogota (AFP)

The 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal is among 150 athletes who will leave Colombia on Sunday after lockdown to return to Europe and resume competition, officials said Thursday.

The athletes who will take a special flight from Bogota to Madrid on Sunday, the Colombian Sports Ministry and the national airline, Avianca, said.

Egan Bernal last raced in the Tour Colombia in February
Egan Bernal last raced in the Tour Colombia in February JUAN BARRETO AFP/File

Bernal, who rides for the Ineos team, will be joined by cyclists Nairo Quintana, winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia and 2016 Vuelta a Espana, Rigoberto Uran and Miguel Angel Lopez.

The full list of passengers will be known on Saturday, once all the necessary coronavirus tests have been carried out.

“Our athletes will be able to arrive in Europe to comply with competition schedules, which is fundamental in their development, which has been altered in the first half of the year by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Colombian Minister of Sport, Ernesto Lucena.

On their arrival in Madrid, the sportsmen and women will not have to place themselves in quarantine, since the Spanish government considers the tests and protocols carried out before the trip to be sufficient, the minister added.

Juan Diego Zapata, director of Avianca, said that “each stage of the flight” would follow “all the health recommendations of the World Health Organization”.

The athletes will leave Colombia at a critical time for the country, which already has more than 165,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 5,000 deaths, and where the number of cases is exploding.

The spread of the epidemic has forced the government to renew the lockdown in several cities, including Bogota and Medellin.

Colombia has been in a state of emergency since March 18, resulting in border closures and drastic limitations on the number of commercial flights.

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