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Australian GP "going ahead"

NEWS STORY
02/03/2020

Less than two weeks before the cars line up on the Melbourne grid to get the 2020 season underway, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott has confirmed that the race is going ahead.

"We are all systems go and gearing up for the 25th Formula 1 race in Melbourne next week," he said in a statement issued today. "The finishing touches are being put on the circuit, Formula 1 freight and personnel are arriving in the coming days and we're looking forward to opening the gates to the public on Thursday 12 March.

"The health and safety of everyone at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 is paramount," he continued. "The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has robust health, safety and emergency management arrangements in place at each event and we are working collaboratively with health agencies and related government and emergency services organisations in addressing this matter.

"We continue to closely monitor the situation in the lead-up to the Grand Prix and are taking guidance from subject matter experts, including Victorian and National Chief Health Officers and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. At this stage there is no indication of further travel bans, nor is there any indication that Formula 1 and the teams will not be arriving as usual.

"Formula 1 has again confirmed overnight that the Australian Grand Prix is going ahead and we're looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne."

Meanwhile, the Australian government's Department of Health confirms that as of today (Monday), there have been 29 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia.

"15 of these cases are reported to have recovered," it reports, while "the remaining cases are in a stable condition.

"10 cases are associated with the Diamond Princess repatriation flight from Japan," it continues, adding that "all of these people have returned to their home states for medical treatment."

Sadly, one of those affected has died.

The news follows yesterday's announcement that the opening two rounds of the MotoGP season, scheduled to take place in Qatar and Thailand, have been cancelled due to travel restrictions imposed on passengers from Italy.

Ferrari, one of two F1 teams based in Italy, has already called on F1 bosses for assurances that members of his team will not be quarantined when they arrive in Australia or any of the other initial destinations.

"Getting to testing has been difficult,” he told reporters. "Some of our engineers going there have remained home, so instead of taking the risk to be there and eventually staying there for a few days or many days, they stayed home.

"I think what we will need is simply to have assurance before leaving," he added. "I don't think we can discover when we arrive what can be or what will be the situation.

"If there are any medical screenings, we need to know about them. You need to know exactly what's about. We need to understand what the consequences are in case of any problem.

"Obviously we need to protect our employees. We have got collective and individual responsibility towards them. And it's important, really, to make sure that before leaving, the picture, whatever is the scenario, is known and clear."

The Ferrari boss was keen to make clear that the situation doesn't only affect his team.

"It's not only two teams because we are supplying assistance to Haas and the Alfa Sauber team," he said. "So it will be four teams at least, plus the Pirelli situation which we need to understand.

"So what will be the situation that if eventually four teams cannot run and if the race will take place or not? That is not my decision."

While the Melbourne race has never been in serious doubt, the same cannot be said of the events in Vietnam and Bahrain. While the latter's ministry of health reported six new cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 47, in Vietnam it is claimed that all 16 infected patients have been cured.

Bahrain has suspended all private and public schools, universities, and nurseries, initially for two weeks, in addition to testing all citizens and residents who travelled to Iran in February.

Vietnam's restrictions mainly apply to those who have travelled from neighbouring China, the epicentre of the virus.

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