As the novelturned from epidemic to an , according to the World Health Organization, yet another institution showed the virus stops for nothing.
The Australian Grand Prix, the first race of the 2020 Formula One season, has officially been canceled as part of a joint decision between Formula One, the FIA, and the 10 team principals. The first related events were set to begin Friday in Melbourne.
On Thursday, McLaren Racing made the decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, Formula One’s kick-off race for the season. In a statement, the team said this move follows a positive case of the coronavirus within the team’s organization. McLaren did not reveal their identity but said the team member entered self-isolation shortly after showing symptoms. Local Australian healthcare officials will now treat them.
“The decision has been taken based on a duty of care not only toemployees and partners, but also the team’s competitors, F1 fans and F1 stakeholders,” the statement closed with.
Following McLaren’s decision, the race teams reportedly held an overnight vote regarding canceling the race, which was split 5-5. On Thursday afternoon a flight manifest was posted online that showed drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen had already boarded flights home despite the race still being officially on at that time, and initial reports said the race would continue as planned, albeit without any spectators.
Just after 4 p.m. PT on Thursday, Formula One and the FIA put out a joint statement announcing the cancellation of the race. “Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, Formula One and the FIA convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening,” the statement said. “Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead. Formula One and the FIA, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, have therefore taken the decision that all Formula One activity for the Australian Grand Prix is canceled.”
The statement went on to say that ticket holders would receive full refunds, with more announcements regarding the race to come.
The FIA and Formula One haven’t yet said whether other races will be affected. The Chinese Grand Prix was previously canceled ahead of the season’s start and the Bahrain Grand Prix organizers announced it would prohibit fans from watching the race live.
With both the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri (nee Toro Rosso) teams hailing from Italy, the European epicenter of the outbreak, it’s hard to imagine how the 2020 season will continue with a business-as-usual attitude.
Numerous sports organizations in the US have announced major changes in the last day to slow the spread of the virus, includingand a .
First published March 12, 8:22 a.m. PT.
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