Despite no official comment from FIA one way or the other, the response made by China in relation to combating the coronavirus outbreak has been commended by the World Health Organisation Director General making clear that there is no need for foreigners to be evacuated. All of this can lead one to assume that the Chinese F1 Grand Prix will go ahead as planned from April 17th to 19th. So, let’s evaluate what we know so far.
First of all, tickets can still be purchased for the F1 Grand Prix in Shanghai from the official F1 tickets outlet tickets.formula1.com. Also, the main Chinese promoters 247tickets.com and Juss.tickets have made no sign of halting sales or warning of a possible delay. Meanwhile, fan forums are sharing advice on hotels to stay at and attractions to visit whilst in town.
The reason for such positivity is supported by the fact that on Tuesday January 28th the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, met with the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Beijing. The publication China Daily reported that, according to China’s Foreign Ministry, the WHO Chief is:
‘confident in China’s ability to contain a new coronavirus that has killed 106 people and that he did not think foreigners should be evacuated.’
Any loss of life is of course devastating, and this number has now increased to 130 from a total of almost 6000 reported cases. However, in a country of over 1.4 billion people reacting to an outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan, a city of over 8 million people, this number of cases can be used to justify the comments of the World Health Organisation and show how controlled the outbreak is.
Therefore, with this being the situation in January and the race scheduled for April 17th – confidence should be high that all will go ahead as planned.
So, how has China reacted so quickly?
First, as has been widely reported, they have quarantined over 10 cities to protect citizens whilst also suspended some high-speed travel services between Hong Kong’s special administrative region and China’s mainland. Also, some major cities have suspended taxi hailing services and ride sharing services whilst the public metro system is disinfected every day and, in some cases, twice a day. Meanwhile, citizens of the cities enjoy an extended holiday time for Chinese New Year celebrations following suspension of school and work - whilst also wearing masks if travelling outside or in crowded areas.
Once again though, the real heroes continue to be the doctors and nurses still working around the clock to reassure citizens, cure citizens and in many cases save the lives of citizens. Those men and women who continue to work tirelessly in quarantined cities handling these outbreaks.
It is due to these people that if it is announced that the Chinese F1 Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled – no one should be in any doubt that it is not going to be safe to do so. The only concern anyone attending the event should have - is whether there will be more overtaking than there was last year!