Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after two individuals suspected of having the coronavirus at the UAE Tour tested negative for the disease.
Morkov, 34, had spent 34 hours in isolation in Berlin after travelling to the German capital from the UAE Tour, where he contested the opening four stages before leaving the race early.
The final two stages of that race were cancelled on Thursday night when two members of staff on the race developed symptoms suggesting they could have the virus, and riders and staff on the race remain under lockdown in Abu Dhabi.
But, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying the first 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal in Berlin.
In a statement, cycling’s world governing body said Morkov was “in excellent health, with no suspicious clinical signs” and was now “free in his movements and activities, including within the velodrome”.
Morkov had been in the velodrome on Thursday evening, celebrating Denmark’s world record in the team pursuit prior to news of the coronavirus scare on the UAE Tour breaking, but then agreed with his coaches to go into voluntary isolation until further news came through from Abu Dhabi.
Though he was placed into isolation, Morkov was not tested for the coronavirus based on advice from the UCI’s medical team.
“I arrived here on Thursday and just before going to bed I heard from my sports director in UAE that they would cancel the race due to suspicions of having the coronavirus there, so that of course was really unfortunate news,” Morkov said.
“I went to bed and when I woke up the next morning I was in contact with my coach. He and I decided it was better to stay in the room for safety reasons.
“Personally I wouldn’t be feeling well if I jeopardised anybody with the risk of bringing this virus around me.”
Morkov, who will compete in the Madison on Sunday alongside Lasse Norman Hansen, praised the UCI’s handling of the situation.
“We’ve been in close contact with the UCI who have been helping us and trying to clear me to race here. I’m really happy with how the case went.
“Of course I was really nervous it would drag on and we would have to postpone the decision until tomorrow morning which would make it really difficult for racing, but since it’s today I have the rest of the day to focus on the race and prepare for tomorrow.”
Morkov said that he had not felt ill at any stage, and believes the situation will not affect his preparations for Sunday’s race, if anything giving him added motivation.
“I feel really good for tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t believe it will affect my race tomorrow, maybe only in a positive way. Maybe I’m even more motivated for a good race tomorrow than I was before I came here. Now I feel really privileged I get to race.”
Following the announcements overnight in Abu Dhabi, a subsequent statement from the UCI said that participants at the World Championships did “not present, to date, any risk of contamination and spread to the virus…other than that found for the general population”.
It added: “Based on these elements, the UCI and the organising committee have judged that the person who has been the subject of prophylactic measures is not at risk. The latter is therefore free in his movements and activities, including within the velodrome.
“The UCI and the parties concerned will continue to sensitise the delegations present to the individual preventive measures recommended before the Championships and during the running of the competitions. These measures are of primary importance in order to reduce the risks of spreading the virus.
“The UCI would like to emphasise that the situation has been brought under control to date and that the safety of athletes, teams and anyone present in Berlin is ensured.”