(ATR) The Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for Shanghai from April 17-19, has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai may not take place in 2020 (Formula 1)
F1 said in a statement that the race promoter requested the postponement and both F1 and governing body FIA jointly accepted “in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans”.
The statement added that all stakeholders will “monitor the situation as it develops, with all parties studying the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve”.
There are 22 races scheduled for the 2020 F1 season, which begins next month with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The Chinese race was to be the last of three spring races in Asia. F1 doesn’t return to Asia until the Singapore Grand Prix, which runs from Sept. 18-20.
The F1 race is one of the highest profile events to be postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus, which has been named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. More than 1,100 people in China have been killed by the virus.
The F1 postponement could put pressure on SportAccord to decide whether its annual convention scheduled for Beijing should go ahead. It is slated to begin on April 19, which would have been race day at the Chinese Grand Prix.
A range of events have already been cancelled or postponed, including the World Indoor Athletics Championships scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15. World Athletics took the event off the 2020 calendar, moving it to March 2021.
Olympic qualifying events scheduled for China have been moved, with Chinese athletes in particular being hard hit since they are not free to travel outside the country to participate.
China’s women’s handball team became the first national squad to lose its chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020 after pulling out of next month’s qualifying tournament in Montenegro. The International Handball Federation announced this week that Thailand will replace China after Hong Kong refused the offer to play in the tournament.
The Asian Football Confederation, citing travel restrictions in several countries with clubs involved with the AFC Cup, on Tuesday postponed matches for the East Zone of the competition until April 7.
The AFC had earlier postponed Champions League matches involving Chinese clubs in the East Zone.
The coronavirus outbreak also forced China to withdraw hosting the Asian qualifying tournament for women’s football. It was moved to Sydney, Australia and delayed slightly due to the Chinese team and staff being quarantined upon arrival in Brisbane.
China and Australia play on Thursday in the final Group B game. The winner will play Vietnam and the loser South Korea over two legs to determine the two teams that will join Japan in the Tokyo 2020 tournament this summer.
As of now, there is no public indication by either the IOC or Tokyo 2020 organizers that the Olympics are in danger of being postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Written by Gerard Farek
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