Coronavirus forces F1's hand to host Bahrain GP without spectators

Image: TeamTalk
Image: TeamTalk

In a first for Formula 1, the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled, but with no spectators as the decision was taken to host it behind closed doors due to the coronavirus.

It was announced on Friday (6 March) that ticket sales for the race, which serves as the second round of the 2020 F1 season, had been halted due to the global spread of the coronavirus as organisers plotted their next move.

That next move turned out to be a drastic one with the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix now going ahead with all spectators banned - a first for F1.

Official statement

The official statement read: "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."

READ: 'There are some things you can't control' - Raikkonen not worried about coronavirus

Rapid, proactive measures

Bahrain talked up their own response to the outbreak, but said that allowing fans to attend the race would have made their procedures impossible to maintain.

The statement continues: "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."

READ: Confirmed - Australian GP to go ahead as planned despite coronavirus fears

"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 prior to this, it was announced that several regions in Northern Italy have been put under quarantine, one of those being Modena where Ferrari are based.

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