The organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have confirmed that this year’s event in Sakhir will a TV-only event, due to the breakout of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The Bahrain International Circuit is due to hold round two of the 2020 Formula One season on 22nd March but, with numerous international sporting events being cancelled or postponed due to the spread of the virus, numerous discussions had taken place about whether or not the opening races could go ahead.
The Australian Grand Prix will take place as normal this weekend, but the Chinese Grand Prix (round three) has already been postponed, with China being the biggest country affected by the virus.
The Gulf region has already taken action against the virus by restricting travel and cancelling events, and the decision to close the Bahrain Grand Prix to the public is the latest step in “aggressive social distancing” and reducing the chances of further infections.
A statement released through the social media channels of the Bahrain International Circuit read:
“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.
“As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and race goers 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.”