The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently stated that the coronavirus outbreak meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and therefore appropriate actions are to be taken by governments and other organisations worldwide. Public events where many people are in close proximity would need have the risk factor reviewed and such events include motor racing.
Last week, the FIA (the international organisation governing motorsports) said it is closely monitoring the evolving situation concerning the coronavirus with relevant authorities and its Member Clubs, under the direction of FIA Medical Commission President, Professor Gerard Saillant. The FIA will evaluate the calendar of forthcoming races around the world and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motorsport community and the wider public.
In view of the continued spread of coronavirus and after close consultation with the relevant departments of Hainan Province and Sanya Municipal Government, Round 6 of the Formula E all-electric championship is cancelled. The Sanya e-Prix was scheduled to be run at the Haitang Bay Street Circuit on the island of Hainan on March 21.
“Given the current growing health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus an international emergency, Formula E has taken the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of its travelling staff, championship participants and spectators, which remains of paramount importance,” the FIA said in a statement.
“We are working closely with our regional partner and the local authorities in Hainan Province and Sanya Municipal Government, to continue monitoring the situation as it develops. All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates should the situation improve,” it added.
Obviously, other events are being reviewed with those that will be held in China being at the top of the list. In April, the third round of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship calendar is to be held at the Shanghai circuit and that too may have to be cancelled or postponed.
During the second half of the year, there are also two rounds of the World Touring Car Cup (September and November). However, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) calendar does not include a round in China this year as the Kyalami circuit in South Africa is reinstated. The Monza 6 Hours will take the weekend that the Chinese WEC round at Shanghai has traditionally been held on.
Of course, given every country’s concern about the virus and preventing its spread, all public events which would have large crowds would be reviewed by local authorities and organisers, not just motorsports.