Bahrain will become the first-ever closed-door Grand Prix next weekend, with the kingdom deciding against holding a mass gathering, given the continued spread of COVID 19.
Just days after the kingdom announced that it was halting ticket sales as it moved to evaluate its response to the situation, it has now announced that will not be allowed at the 22nd of march event.
In a statement issued on Sunday morning, Bahrain said that the second round of the championship would be a televised event only. “in consultation with our international partners in the kingdom’s national health task-force, Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix as a participants only event” it said.
“As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and race goers as 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 said that the strict measures it had made to limit the spread of the virus over recent weeks, would have been scuppered if thousands of fans had visited the race. it added Bahrain zone 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 where 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 by Bahrain comes just hours after Italy announced that many of its regions were being put under quarantine.
Bahrain could be the first of many races this year to take the closed-door approach, with the world continuing to reel from the spread of COVID 19, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, and claimed almost 3500 lives. the FIA has since set up a new crisis cell, that will convene every second day to monitor changes, an important step with Italy on lock-down, and people permitted to travel only for work or family emergencies. which could affect Ferrari in Maranello Alpha Tauri in Firenze and F1 tire supplier Pirelli, which is based in Milan.