When the Giro d’Italia, one of the world’s most prestigious bike races, announced its intentions to launch off next year’s competition in Jerusalem, Israeli cycling enthusiasts were thrilled and the government promised its support. Earlier this week, however, things went downhill when the Giro d’Italia noted on its website that the race was slated to take place in “West Jerusalem,” a designation that ignores the reunification of the Jewish state’s capital in 1967.
Furious, Israel’s ministers of tourism and sports announced yesterday that they would no longer cooperate with the Giro d’Italia, making meeting the event’s extensive security demands all but impossible. The race’s organizers quickly responded, correcting their website this morning to note simply that the competition will be held simply in “Jerusalem.”
“The reality is that we want it to be a sports event and stay away from any political discussion,” said Mauro Vegni, the race’s director, who added that he had drawn the original course with the guidance of the Italian foreign ministry.
“Following our response to the Giro management,” the Israeli ministers of tourism and sports noted in a joint statement, “we are pleased to see the prompt reaction of the organisers in removing the name ‘west Jerusalem’ from their official announcements.”
Earlier this week, Chris Froome, considered to be the best cyclist in the world today, confirmed that he, too, is Jerusalem-bound and will compete in next year’s race.