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Danish minister criticised for scrapping Great Belt Bridge run

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Danish minister criticised for scrapping Great Belt Bridge run
File photo: Evan Hemmingsen/Scanpix
20:24 CEST+02:00
Event organisers and politicians have criticised a decision by Denmark's Roads Agency (Vejdirektoratet) to withdraw permission for sporting events on the 6.8-kilometre Great Belt Bridge.

A run has been held on the bridge, which links the islands of Zealand and Funen, every three years since 2005, as well as in 1997 and 1998.

Transport minister Ole Birk Olesen said Tuesday that he supported the Roads Agency decision to withdraw the permit for the Broløbet event, meaning that the edition scheduled for 9th September this year will be the last.

The Aarhus-Copenhagen cycling event, which also crosses the bridge, also faces an uncertain future as a result of the decision.

Severe traffic delays during a half-marathon on the smaller Little Belt Bridge between Funen and Jutland in May this year were part of the basis for the decision, Olesen said via a written message.

“I support the new position because it is important to maintain a clear passage between the different parts of the country and on other central motorway stretches,” the minister wrote.

Olesen added that special dispensation could be given for special events – such as the Tour de France Grand Depart, an event for which Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen is currently in France in an effort to bring to Denmark.

Olesen and Rasmussen were criticised for this stance by parliamentary colleagues.

“Cyling and running events are forbidden on the Great Belt while we campaign to bring the Tour de France to the exact same place. Very poor signal,” Social Democrat MP Benny Engelbrecht wrote on Twitter.

Jens Veggerby, organiser of the Aarhus-Copenhagen event, told TV2 that it was “very contradictory to put aside 100 million kroner for the world's biggest professional cycling race while simultaneously closing down an event that is inclusive of everyone".

Claus Johansen, chairperson of the Nyborg GIF football club, said that closing the running event over the bridge would have economic consequences for local sports associations.

“I think there is Copenhagen snobbery in it, because I know that half of Copenhagen is often closed down for big marathon events, and that people there are very proud of it,” Johansen told DR.

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