After the Geneva Motor Show succumbed to fears surrounding the growing Coronavirus epidemic and Formula One and Formula E races in Asia have been put in jeopardy as well, the top-tier MotoGP season opener next weekend in Qatar has been canceled.
In a statement released this afternoon, the Fédération Internationale de Motorcyclisme announced that the top tier race due to be held a week from today at Lusail International Circuit will not proceed because of the impact of restrictions intended to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus:
FIM, IRTA and Dorna regret to announce the cancellation of all MotoGP class sessions at the Grand Prix of Qatar, including the race.
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has resulted in Qatar travel restrictions being brought into force that affect passengers from Italy, amongst other countries. As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past 2 weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP class - both on track and off - and therefore the decision has been taken to cancel premier class competition.
Moto2 and Moto3 races also planned for next weekend will take place as planned. Most of those teams had already been on the ground in Qatar prior to travel restrictions that have been put in place to stem the spread of the virus from hotspots where transmission has been difficult to stop, like Northern Italy.
It’s important to note that this cancellation is not because the race organizers are worried that the race itself might be a venue for the spreading of the virus, which was the rationale for canceling the show in Geneva. Rather, this cancellation is due to the pressure that containment efforts have had international travel. With a 14-day quarantine for all travelers arriving in Qatar from Italy, it would be all but impossible to run the race as planned.
With most of the international motorsports calendar ahead of us, the impact of these restrictions on travel and logistics will likely continue to have an impact on events and competition, even when they are not being held in places where cases have been recorded.
We will continue to provide coverage on the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has on motorsports and the auto industry as a whole. Hopefully, race organizers and racers themselves will be able to put on the events they’ve worked so hard to prepare for while taking caution as the impact of the virus is felt.