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Bahrain GP to be held without public presence due to coronavirus

Bahrain GP to be held without public presence due to coronavirus

The Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled for March 22, will be run without the presence of the public due to the “continuous spread of the new coronavirus in the world,” announced the local organizers of the competition.

“Organizing a major sporting event, open to the public and allowing thousands of international travelers and local fans to interact closely is not the best at this time,” explained Bahrain International Circuit, organizer of the event, in a statement.

“We know the great disappointment this will represent for many, especially those who were planning to travel especially for this event (…) but safety must remain our top priority,” added the organizers.

The decision comes at a time when the Gulf countries are taking important restrictive measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic after more than 200 cases have already been confirmed in the area, 83 in Bahrain, the vast majority in people returning from pilgrimages in Iran, one of the most important foci of the disease after China.

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“So that neither the sport nor its fans around the world are unduly harmed, the race weekend will continue to be broadcast on television,” they said.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced on Friday the creation of a crisis cell on the new coronavirus after several motorsport tests were postponed or canceled due to the epidemic.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is ​​the second race of the Formula 1 season, which is due to start on March 15 with the Australian Grand Prix, which has not announced any special measures for the test at the moment.

– Circuit «finished» in Hanoi –

The organizers of the 3rd race on the calendar, the Vietnam Grand Prix, assured in mid-February that the test would be held “as planned” on April 5 in Hanoi, despite the spread of the new coronavirus.

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Ten days ago, they announced that the Hanoi circuit was “finished”, just over a month from the first Grand Prix in history in that Asian country.

Instead, the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 19 at the Shanghai circuit has been postponed sine die.

The global epidemic of the new coronavirus is causing the cancellation, postponement or closed-door dispute of many sporting events in recent weeks, raising concerns about the next big events on the international calendar, such as the European Football Championship ( June 12 – July 12) or the Tokyo Olympics (July 24 – August 9).

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the accelerated spread of the virus as “very worrying”: in total, there are 95 countries affected by COVID-19, which has already caused more than 3,500 deaths worldwide.

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The virus has already contaminated more than 100,000 people around the world. AFP

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