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'Coronavirus-Free' Turkmenistan Will Not Host 2021 Track Cycling Championships (Due To Pandemic)

Ashgabat features a large monument honoring cycling.
Ashgabat features a large monument honoring cycling.

The isolated and tightly controlled Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, where no coronavirus cases have been officially registered since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, will not be hosting the 2021 Track Cycling World Championships due to restrictions over COVID-19.

The championships were scheduled to be held in Turkmenistan despite concerns about the authoritarian rule of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

In its press release issued late on June 3, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said that the October 13-17 event in Ashgabat was canceled "at the request of the organizers, as the health constraints and restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic make it impossible to stage the event in the country."

"The UCI is currently in contact with several potential alternative organizers with a view to moving the event to another venue on the same dates. The name of the new host city will be communicated as soon as possible," the press release said.

The announcement came a week after the European Track Championships in another former Soviet republic -- Belarus -- were canceled after Minsk ordered the forced landing of a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania in order to detain an opposition journalist, Raman Pratasevich, and his girlfriend.

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