The Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first Formula One race to be run behind closed doors as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Just days earlier, it was announced that ticket sales were halted as the situation surrounding the virus was evaluated. It has now been decided that spectators will be barred from attending the March 22 event.
A statement was issued regarding the decision:
“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.
“Bahrain’s own early actions to prevent, identify and isolate cases of individuals with Covid-19 has been extremely successful to date. The approach has involved rapid, proactive measures, identifying those affected by the virus, of which the overwhelming majority of cases relate to those travelling into the country by air. Aggressive social distancing measures have further increased the effectiveness of preventing the virus’ spread, something that would clearly be near impossible to maintain were the race to have proceeded as originally planned.
“We know how disappointed many will be by this news, especially for those planning to travel to the event, which has become a cornerstone event of the international F1 calendar, but safety has to remain our utmost priority.”
Just hours before the statement was issued, the Italian government placed several northern regions under lockdown – including Modena where Ferrari is based. The upcoming season opener in Melbourne is expected to go ahead.