The COVID-19, aka the coronavirus outbreak, has already spread to 42 countries of the world, with the most recent cases reported in Northern Italy. The measures taken by governments to contain the virus and keep it from further spreading have affected the cycling industry as well. So, what happened already and what is to be expected?
No big gatherings, people
Major events (and not just the sporting ones) are being called off all over the world. Following the coronavirus outbreak in China, the ISPO, world’s largest sporting goods and sportswear trade fair originally planned to take place in Beijing, was cancelled. The Women’s WorldTour race, scheduled to take place in Chongming Island at the beginning of May, waits for its new date later in the season. Despite the early February claims that the Taipei Cycle event will take place on its scheduled dates, the event’s organizers have recently decided to re-schedule the show to May.
As the virus spreads outside Asia, it seems that major events in Europe will not escape the outbreak of cancellations as well. The prevalent concern these days is the Milan-San Remo race, scheduled on March 21st. With the number of coronavirus cases reported in Lombardy, the empty square at Milan’s famous Duomo and 10 Lombardy villages under lockdown, should we really expect the event to take place?
The disruptions in bicycle manufacturing
Recent weeks’ events have already shown the effects on the bicycle industry. The extended Chinese New Year’s break and the increased numbers of workers held in quarantine resulted in about 60 % of Chinese companies battling difficulties and announcing reductions in the production capacity.
China is a major producer of raw materials used for bicycle manufacturing, a fact which poses an obvious threat to all their customers and bicycle manufacturers outside the Chinese market. It is likely the disruption in the supply chain will resonate long after the virus is dealt with. The problem also works the other way around. Companies present on the Chinese market face significant financial loss resulting from a drop in demand.
Unfortunately, the overall impact of the coronavirus outbreak cannot be predicted. It seems we are still only at the beginning of the epidemic. Let’s just hope that the near future will bring good news for all those affected.