By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The Bahrain Grand Prix weekend will go as planned on March 20-22, but it’ll be contested behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that’s affected several racing disciplines such as Formula E and MotoGP this year.
Although Bahrain International Circuit regret the decision of not allowing people to attend the second round of the Formula One World Championship, safety comes first under these unfortunate circumstances.
“In consultation with our international partners and the Kingdom’s national health Taskforce, Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix as a participants-only event,” the circuit issued in a statement Sunday. “As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and racegoers is a tremendous responsibility.
“Given the continued spread of Covid-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travellers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time.
“But to ensure that neither the sport, nor its global supporter base, is unduly impacted, the race weekend itself will still go ahead as a televised event.
“Bahrain’s own early actions to prevent, identify and isolate cases of individuals with Covid-19 has been extremely successful to date. The approach has involved rapid, proactive measures, identifying those affected by the virus, of which the overwhelming majority of cases relate to those travelling into the country by air.
“Aggressive social distancing measures have further increased the effectiveness of preventing the virus’ spread, something that would clearly be near impossible to maintain were the race to have proceeded as originally planned.
“We know how disappointed many will be by this news, especially for those planning to travel to the event, which has become a cornerstone event of the international F1 calendar, but safety has to remain our utmost priority.”
It’s the second F1 race officially affected by the outbreak as the Chinese Grand Prix, originally slated to be the fourth round of the championship April 19, was postponed and have yet to reschedule the event.
Not only venues have made changes, but also international broadcasts. Shortly after Bahrain’s decision of running the race without spectators, Germany and Hungary confirmed they’ll not be on-location for Bahrain and the season opening Australian Grand Prix March 15, won by Valtteri Bottas last year.
The FIA are closely monitoring the situation and will take any further necessary actions at countries heavily affected by the epidemic.