The Coronavirus pandemic has killed thousands already, and it is difficult to understate both its virulence and danger. That’s proving very challenging for event organizers globally, and Formula One is no different. The Bahrain Grand Prix will go on as planned, but reportedly without any spectators at all.
As authorities forbid large gatherings of crowds for health and safety reasons, shows such as the Geneva Motor Show are getting cancelled or postponed left and right as well as sports events, and it will not be easy for motor racing, either.
The MotoGP season opener, due to take place in Austin, is also being re-evaluated, and Formula One isn’t safe from the effects of the global virus scare, either. After the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed, F1 officials have insisted that the season-opening Australian GP will go on as normal, but other races are still under evaluation.
The Bahrain GP will go on as well, but it will now be held as a “participants-only event,”meaning there will be no spectators allowed at the track. The race organizers released a statement regarding the race, which is to be held on March 22nd, Sky Sports reports:
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.
As Coronavirus is currently affecting a large part of Italy, with some of its regions under lockdown to hinder the virus from spreading, F1 testing is also seeing the effects. Earlier this week, Ferrari and Pirelli postponed wet weather tire testing that was supposed to take place in Fiorano.
Also earlier this week, F1 race director Ross Brawn stated that if any of the teams is prevented from entering the country where a race is to be held, the race in question would be cancelled to make it fair for the teams.