By Martyn Herman
(Reuters) - The Giro d'Italia, which was due to start in Budapest, has been postponed after the Hungarian government's move to declare a state of emergency in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, race organizers RCS Sport said on Friday.
Cycling's first Grand Tour of the season was scheduled to start on May 9 in the Hungarian capital -- the first time the prestigious race was to depart from eastern Europe.
"The organizing committee of the Giro d'Italia's Hungarian stages declared the Giro's start could not be held in Hungary at the originally scheduled time," a statement said.
"All parties have agreed that they are determined to work together to enable the Giro d'Italia to depart from Hungary at a later time."
As well as the opening time trial through Budapest's historic center, two more stages were scheduled in Hungary before the race swung back to Italy.
In a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Hungary has prohibited the organization of mass events.
No revised start date or location for the race has been announced, with a decision not expected before April 3.
Italy is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic which has so far killed more than 1,000 people in the country and prompted the government into restricting movement until at least April 3.
"The new date will be announced no earlier than 3 April when the provisions of the D.P.C.M. (Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic) of 4 March 2020 will end, and only after having consulted with the appropriate representatives of the Italian Government, local and territorial authorities and Italian and international sports institutions," the statement added.
All sporting events have been suspended in Italy, including the Serie A soccer league, because of the coronavirus outbreak and cycling has been hit especially hard.
Already the Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico races have been canceled.
Giro race director Mauro Vegni was quoted by Cycling Weekly as saying: "We are waiting for the end of this month to understand what will happen.
"In my opinion there will be a complete review of the whole year, for all activities. It is a complicated moment."
Earlier this week the president of cycling's governing body the UCI, David Lappartient, said it would be a "disaster" for the sport if the Giro or Tour de France were canceled.
The Tour de France is due to begin on June 27 in Nice. On Friday the Paris-Nice race was shortened by a stage with the final stage to Nice on Sunday being canceled. [nL8N2B63DU]
(Reporting by Martyn Herman and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)