Official: Bahrain GP to be held 'behind closed doors'

08/03/2020
NEWS STORY

As Italy effectively locks down 16 regions, including the home of Ferrari, officials in Bahrain announce that fans will not be admitted to its forthcoming Grand Prix.

"In consultation with our international partners and the Kingdom's national health Taskforce, Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year's Bahrain Grand Prix as a participants-only event," said organisers in a brief statement on Sunday morning.

"As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and race goers is a tremendous responsibility. Given the continued spread of Covid-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travellers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time. But to ensure that neither the sport, nor its global supporter base, is unduly impacted, the race weekend itself will still go ahead as a televised event.

"Bahrain's own early actions to prevent, identify and isolate cases of individuals with Covid-19 has been extremely successful to date. The approach has involved rapid, proactive measures, identifying those affected by the virus, of which the overwhelming majority of cases relate to those travelling into the country by air. Aggressive social distancing measures have further increased the effectiveness of preventing the virus' spread, something that would clearly be near impossible to maintain were the race to have proceeded as originally planned.

"We know how disappointed many will be by this news, especially for those planning to travel to the event, which has become a cornerstone event of the international F1 calendar, but safety has to remain our utmost priority."

The move, which comes five days before the cars take to the track for opening practice in Melbourne, comes three weeks before the Bahrain Grand Prix on 22 March.

Last night, Italy's prime minister, Giuseppe Conte signed a decree that effectively puts 16 regions in the country in lockdown as the country at the epicentre of the virus in Europe seeks to prevent it spreading further.

The provinces include Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, and Treviso.

Lombardy, home to Pirelli and the Nazionale Autodromo Monza, is one of the regions included in the decree as is Modena, which is home to Ferrari.

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Published: 08/03/2020
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