Birmingham & Black Country

Velo Birmingham and the Midlands off due to coronavirus fears

Riders passing Coventry Cathedral Image copyright Ian Baker Photography
Image caption Organisers have yet to confirm if entrants will be compensated in some way in the future

One of the biggest cycling events in the country has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

About 18,000 cyclists were expected to join the Vélo Birmingham and Midlands on 21 June, taking in parts of the Black Country and Warwickshire..

Entry fees, which can cost more than £80, will not be "immediately refunded" with organisers saying they had already paid out "unrecoverable" costs.

They have yet to confirm whether entrants will be compensated in future.

Some entrants have criticised the lack of refunds.

Image copyright From Jake Hobson
Image caption Jake Hobson estimates he could have lost £200 in fees and accomodation

Jake Hobson, 28, from Leeds, said he paid just short of £85 to take part.

"With everything that is going on at the moment, £85 is a lot of money - it could go towards bills or a weekly shop.

"I've entered six or seven cycling events for this year and so far the Velo is the only one that has not offered a refund or deferred entry after cancelling."

Image copyright Ian Baker Photography
Image caption Organisers described this year's event in May as a "huge success", despite issues caused by road closures

He added he had already book accommodation, which he cannot get a refund on, so has lost about £200.

In a statement posted online, organisers said the decision to cancel was made with a "heavy heart".

"We are simply unable to complete the work necessary in the next few weeks to ensure that the event could proceed safely and with minimum support from and/or disruption to local emergency services," they said.

"With an event the scale of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, rescheduling 100 miles of road closures across seven different local authorities, in this time of crisis and strain on public services, is simply not going to be possible."

They said none of their insurance policies "cover the unprecedented circumstances" of coronavirus and had lost funds paid out upfront, as well as expected revenue from the event.

Image copyright Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Image caption The course start line last year was near the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham

"Put plainly, refunding participant entry fees now is not something our business could absorb," the statement said.

However, it is hoped the event will be brought back for 2021, organisers added, although it is unclear whether fees will be waived for this year's entrants.

The 2017 event raised more than £2m for charity and, after a hiatus in 2018, it returned in 2019 with a radically reworked route.

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