Three Grand Prix races – Chinese GP, Qatar GP, Thai GP – including two of the premier class championships – Formula 1 and MotoGP – have been either canceled or postponed indefinitely. The reason behind all three is the same – the coronavirus outbreak. The life-threatening disease that is said to have originated in Wuhan, China is fast spreading across the globe with more and more cases being reported each day. In Europe, Italy has been worst affected with 52 deaths and 1,835 infected. Hence, the country has put travel restrictions in place. A lot of other countries have a similar story.
”Due to Qatar travel restrictions brought into force affecting passengers from Italy (amongst other countries), the premier class will not race at the Losail circuit,” FIM said confirming the cancellation of Qatar GP. Six riders in the elite class are Italian – seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, 2019 runner-up Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci, Francesco Bagnaia, Franco Morbidelli, and Andrea Iannone.
Not long after, the second MotoGP race of the season which was scheduled to be held in Thailand this month was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus epidemic, as announced by the Thai Deputy Prime Minister on Monday.
Earlier on in February, a very important part of the Formula 1 calendar – the Chinese Grand Prix – was postponed indefinitely. Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, officially requested the postponement after ongoing discussions with the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports.
For the MotoGP Grand Prix in Buriram, Thailand and Formula 1 GP in China, it has been said that the two will be held later on in the year should the conditions improve.
The virus is fast spreading to a number of countries with the US confirming six deaths from coronavirus. The number of deaths from the virus has reached 3,056 globally, according to WHO’s latest figures. European and Southeast Asian countries are affected, and these are the countries that house some of the major racetracks as well. Europe is affected where the F1 teams are based.
The first MotoGP race is scheduled to happen on 5 April in the US which has reported cases of Coronavirus and F1 organisers insist that the Australian GP will happen on 15 March. Teams and equipment are set to leave this week, a definitive decision on staging the race has to be made within days.
Within the span of about two months when China alerted WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, there are now 89,000 confirmed cases of infections (mostly in China) across the globe. However, the latest reports suggest that infection seems to be slowing in China. The country reported 125 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest since January.
The rest of the world, on the other hand, is witnessing the fast spread of the virus. It has been ascertained that a cure will not be found within this year. There are talks starting already that Japan may have to cancel the upcoming Tokyo Olympics due to the outbreak. It is likely that all events that involve large gatherings of people will have to be shelved at least for this year if the spread of the virus does not slow down soon. Considering the fact that Formula 1 and MotoGP attract massive crowds from countries around the world, authorities would be forced to cancel more Grand Prix events as preventive measures to discourage the spreading of the virus if it doesn’t slow down naturally or if a cure is not found within months.
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