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F1 postpone Chinese Grand Prix over coronavirus fears

The race is the highest-profile sports event to be cancelled since the outbreak of the virus.

Charles Leclerc competes in last year's Chinese Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc competes in last year's Chinese Grand Prix.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Feb 12th 2020, 12:27 PM

THE CHINESE GRAND Prix scheduled for 19 April has been postponed because of the “continued spread” of the coronovirus, motorsport’s governing body FIA announced Wednesday.

FIA said promotors of the Shanghai race had requested a postponment “in view of the continued spread of novel coronavirus”.

“As a result of continued health concerns and with the @WHO (World Health Organisation) declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, the FIA and @F1 Formula 1 have taken these measures in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans.”

The race is the latest – but easily most high-profile – sports event to fall victim to the virus outbreak which has killed more than 1,100 people in China, where it emerged at the end of last year.

This decision also throws into doubt the inaugural race in Vietnam, which takes place two weeks before Shanghai but where there have also been cases of the virus, officially named COVID-19.

Formula One’s managing director Ross Brawn said last week that they will look to reschedule the Shanghai race were it to be postponed. 

“We will leave open the opportunity to see if the race can run later in the year,” he said, according to the BBC.

“China is an enthusiastic, growing market so we’d like to have a race in China.”

China has been forced to cancel or put off a host of sporting events due to the coronavirus epidemic, from suspending all football in the country to postponing the first badminton tournament of the 2020 world tour season.

The world’s most populous country has increasingly become a powerhouse in hosting international sport in recent years, but has had its sporting calendar thrown into chaos.

Athletics’ World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing in 13-15 March, have been postponed for a year.

The Chinese Formula E Grand Prix, due to take place in Sanya on the southern island of Hainan on 21 March, was called off “after close consultation” with government authorities.

© – AFP, 2020

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