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'Closed door' Singapore GP "not feasible"

NEWS STORY
18/05/2020

Little-by-little the proposed 2020 calendar is beginning to fall into place - subject to the approval of various governments and the 'easing' of the pandemic - and already it appears that the European races will mostly be held behind closed doors.

In terms of the Singapore Grand Prix however, this isn't an option.

"The calendar for the 2020 season is currently being finalised and Singapore GP has been maintaining an open dialogue with F1, the Singapore Government and our stakeholders during this time, to assess different possibilities," a spokesman for the event tells the Straights Times, adding that while it is "not feasible to conduct the race behind closed doors", "the top priority remains the well-being and safety of our fans, volunteers, and all Singaporeans."

However, warning that there needs to be "sufficient lead time to complete the construction of the various components", including the temporary stands and lighting for the night race, they add that this "typically requires three months to complete, and will depend on whether such activities are permitted under the prevailing government regulations".

To date, Singapore has suffered 28,038 cases of the coronavirus, resulting in 22 deaths, and while the government has given the green light to building contractors to resume various "critical projects" from 2 June, "safe distancing requirements" must be observed.

With the approval of the Building and Construction Authority required before projects may resume, there is doubt over the work required to prepare for the Grand Prix.

However, there is also the question of money, and while it appears that Silverstone has agreed a mutually beneficial deal with F1, the sport has made clear that it has no intention of "handing out candy" to either teams or promoters at this time in terms of waiving hosting fees and paying compensation for 'lost' ticket revenue or refunds.

"If you can get the hosting costs waived, which is estimated to be around $30 million for Singapore, and any other contribution from Formula One towards hosting costs, and find a way to maintain safe distancing and keep the area secure, it could still just about make sense," James Walton, head of Deloitte South-east Asia's sports business group, told the Straights Times.

Last year's event saw almost 270,000 fans pass through the turnstiles over the course of the three days, the second highest attendance in the event's history, with 40% understood to be visitors from overseas.

Like the Austin event, Singapore also relies heavily on the concerts that feature at the end of each day's running, last year's headliners including the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

However, the pandemic means that currently no acts have been announced.

"As the global Covid-19 situation is evolving, discussions with artiste managers are still ongoing," said the spokesman for the event. "The entertainment line-up will depend on travel restrictions and government regulations in the artistes' home countries, as well as in Singapore."

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