The daily rate of new COVID-19 cases surged in Tokyo during the Olympics, and vaccines have been slow to roll out throughout Japan. Thankfully that’s beginning to change — the jabs are picking up the pace, and today Bloomberg reported the country should have half its population fully vaccinated by mid-September if things continue at the current rate.
That’s wonderful news, but it won’t save the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit, which has just been canceled for the second year in a row. Formula 1 broke the news Wednesday.
A statement from Formula 1 read: “Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country.
“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.
The Japanese GP was scheduled for October 8-10. It was going to be the third race in as many weeks, after the Russian Grand Prix and Turkish Grand Prix immediately before it. After that was the United States Grand Prix on October 22-24, a date that race still holds.
The prospect of the Japanese GP continuing has looked grim for a while. Setting aside general concern from state officials, MotoGP’s Japanese event, which was originally set to run a week before F1's, was canceled way back in June.
In April, F1 and Suzuka signed a contract that will keep the event at the Honda-owned circuit until and including 2024. When the race was canceled last season, it marked the first year since 1986 in which a Japanese round was not held — a span of 34 years. Of all the races in between, only two were run at Fuji Speedway rather than Suzuka.
Fans will have to wait a little longer for F1's return to a beloved track that has decided so many championships over the years. The series has yet to announce a replacement, but you can expect news on that in the coming weeks. In addition to what was going to be the Japanese GP weekend, there’s another slot on November 19-21 that F1 supposedly still plans to fill. That was originally the weekend of the Australian Grand Prix.