The global coronavirus crisis is now fully interfering with the two most important motorsport competitions. Today we have been told of the second international sporting event casualty of the virus. Only a few hours after the cancellation of the Qatar MotoGP was announced this past Sunday, the Thai MotoGP followed suit.
The second round of the MotoGP World Championship calendar, which was scheduled to take place on the 22nd of March at the Chang International Circuit, has now been postponed until further notice. The decision was communicated by the Thai vice-president and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to the AFP news outlet.
The Thai MotoGP is the second race temporary cancelled for this upcoming season. The inaugural race of the World Championship, which was due to take place on the 8th of March at the Losail Circuit was also cancelled on Sunday.
The beginning of the Championship, which was to take place in less than a week’s time, is now postponed, although this is only true for MotoGP.
All of the other motorcycle racing categories will still go ahead as planned. The Moto2 and Moto3 seasons will, therefore, commence in Losail as participants were already in the country for their pre-season training and apparently that reduces the health risks considerably.
As things stand now, the MotoGP season won’t start until at least April with the occasion of the USA GP. That appointment, however, could also be cancelled if travel restrictions are tightened as it is to be expected if the circumstances worsen.
Formula 1 caught in the coronavirus crisis
The Formula 1 World Championship finds itself in a similar position to that of the MotoGP. The celebration of the Australian Grand Prix, first appointment of 2020 calendar and which is scheduled for the 15th of March at Albert Park (Melbourne), is now up in the air.
By the way, there have been some voices from within Ferrari expressing their unease with the idea of going to Australia and demanding health guarantees before they start shipping their drivers, mechanics, engineers and press personnel to the country.
Doubts are now cast over the Vietnam Grand Prix which was due to feature for the first time in the F1 calendar on the 5th of April, two weeks before the Chinese race.
McLaren’s CEO, Zak Brown, has also voiced his concern regarding the Vietnamese GP because of its proximity to China: “We will, of course, won’t do anything that poses a risk to our staff. Their health is the most important thing. We will be following the situation closely”.
So far, the only date cancelled has been the Chinese GP which was originally scheduled for the 19th of April at the Circuit of Shanghai, near the epicentre of the outbreak in the province of Wuhan.
Organisers of the Chinese GP, country of origin of the coronavirus, took the decision as a precautionary measure and to prevent the spread of the illness, which is now well on its way of becoming a pandemic. The worsening of the health alert has pushed Ferrari to temporarily close its museums in Bolonia and Maranello as well as their factory in the latter town, as everyone in Italy joins efforts to stop the spread of the Covi-19.
Regarding other cancellations due to coronavirus in the world of motorsports, the first one came in February and was the Sanya EPrix, an appointment of the FormulaE World Championship calendar. The race was originally due to take place at the Chinese town on the 21st of March.
Images of Coronavirus in Motorsport: MotoGP