FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

FIA ready to take action over China as more sports events suspended

The virus, thought to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, broke out in December 2019, and has gained greater prominence this month.

As of Wednesday the World Health Organisation and China’s National Health Commission confirmed that 170 deaths have been attributed to the virus.

There have been almost 6,000 cases of the virus, which has now spread to every region in China, with other nations reporting cases.

In the United Kingdom the Foreign Office issued an update on Tuesday to warn against all but essential travel to mainland China.

Seven of the 10 Formula 1 teams, as well as the championship itself, are based in the United Kingdom, meaning going against the advice of the FCO means risking invalidating insurance.

The WHO expressed its “deep concern” over the number of cases and that a “better understanding of the virus is urgently required to guide countries on appropriate measures.”

Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix, which takes place at the Shanghai International Circuit, is currently scheduled as the fourth round of the season, from April 17 to 19, two weeks after the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix.

Formula E’s Sanya E-Prix, which is held on the Chinese island of Hainan, is scheduled for March 21.

British Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, has cancelled all flights from Britain to China until March.

On Thursday the FIA issued an updated statement, confirming that it is “closely monitoring the evolving situation with relevant authorities and its Member Clubs, under the direction of FIA Medical Commission President, Professor Gérard Saillant.

“The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public.”

In Formula 1 it is the responsibility of the promoter – in the case of the Chinese Grand Prix this is Juss Event Management – to ask for a postponement or cancellation.

Chinese authorities have moved in recent days to impose travel restrictions on more than a dozen cities in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, while other countries have stepped up the screening of passengers at airports.

Several other sporting events or qualification matches have already been postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak of the virus.

Cycling’s Tour of Hainan, scheduled for February 23 to March 1, has been indefinitely postponed, as has the Chinese Supercup match between Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua, which was set for February 5 in Suzhou.

China’s domestic football season, which was set to begin on February 22, has been postponed indefinitely.

On Wednesday the World Athletics Federation postponed the Indoor Championships, which were planned for March 13-15 in Nanjing, until 2021.

A statement confirmed that “the advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the WHO, is that the spread of the Coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.”

Events in boxing, basketball, tennis, skiing and swimming have all either been postponed, moved elsewhere, or cancelled.

China is currently in the midst of its New Year holiday period but this has been extended from today (January 30) until at least February 2, while enterprises in Shanghai will shut until February 9, while universities and schools in the city have suspended re-opening until at least February 17.