The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 next weekend is set to continue as planned despite growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) has announced.
World motorsport has already been rocked by either cancelling or postponing a number of events. Notably, it was reported Monday (AEDT) that the MotoGP class would not compete at the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend.
The Chinese Grand Prix–scheduled for April 17-19 in Shanghai–has already been postponed, although questions are raised over the Vietnamese maiden event, scheduled for April 3-5.
China’s Formula E race was formally postponed, scheduled to take place in Sanya on March 21.
Monday’s news about the cancelation of Qatar comes in the midst of Italy’s tightening travel restrictions, where many riders and teams are based.
The MotoGP events in Thailand (March 20-22), the U.S. (April 3-5) and Argentina (April 17-19) may also be at risk due to travel restrictions, while the F1 races in Bahrain (March 20-22) and Vietnam may also be affected.
With regard to the F1 race in Melbourne next weekend, Italian powerhouse squad Ferrari said it will seek guarantees that its workers will be allowed to travel before going to Australia, and not face quarantine restrictions.
AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott emphasized that “everyone’s health and safety” is “paramount” at the Australian Grand Prix, but was adamant that the Albert Park race weekend would continue as planned.
“Australia’s Grand Prix Corporation has comprehensive health, safety, and emergency management systems in place at each event, and we will continue to work with health agencies and related government and emergency services organisations to address this issue,” Westacott said in a statement.
“We will continue to monitor closely the situation in the run-up to the Grand Prix and take advice from experts in the field, including the Victorian and National Health Officers and the.
Italy has become the hardest-hit European country, with 34 deaths and over 1600 people infected. However, Australia’s current travel advice regarding Italy is only to exercise high caution in the country’s north.
However, Federal Health Minster Greg Hunt confirmed Monday he had asked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to review the Italy travel advice.
“I have asked them specifically today as part of their work to consider what the appropriate level of advice is for Italy,” he said.
“The good thing is, they make advice, they give advice, without fear or favour.
“But I have specifically asked them today to consider whether or not the current arrangements need to be changed in any way, shape or form.”
Australia currently has travel bans for China and Iran, the latter being confirmed over the weekend.
Despite mounting fears about the coronavirus pandemic, according to race official Andrew Westacott, the 2020 Formula 1 season is still scheduled to begin in 10 days at the Australian GP in Melbourne.
Having observed the cancelation of the first race of the 2020 MotoGP season in Qatar due to the flu, Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, has released a statement reiterating that the F1 opener will proceed as scheduled.
“Everybody’s health and safety is key at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020,” Westacott began.
“Australian Grand Prix Corporation has comprehensive fitness, safety and emergency response systems in place for every event and we’re going to continue.
“We head for Melbourne, head for Bahrain and head for Hanoi,” he said.
Albert Park’s track has been under renovation for a month and Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said the race will proceed as planned.
“Melbourne is the only city in the world to host a Formula One race and Grand Slam tennis tournament and we look forward to the 25-year Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15,” said Pakula.