Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has always maintained that it is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak in China and it made clear that it will take "any action required" around its events. However, following a statement recently released by the Shanghai Sports Federation, the FIA may effectively have their hand forced to cancel the event irrespective of what they may have hoped to do following any strategy meetings.
A statement released by The Shanghai Sports Federation outlines that:
As a part of preventative measures to effectively prevent the spread of the outbreak, suspend ALL sporting events and strictly implement the requirement that the sports bureau no longer organise sports during the epidemic.
Despite the fact that the Chinese Grand Prix is 70 days away, there are no signs at all that the outbreak will be concluded by this date and so it is now a very realistic assumption to assume that the race meet will be cancelled.
As a result of a 22-race season for the 2020 F1 calendar it is precisely due to the congested nature of the schedule that it also seems extremely unlikely that the Grand Prix can be rescheduled – unless the FIA has a masterplan up its sleeve. So much so, that fan sites have been petitioning for a German F1 Grand Prix to be squeezed into the calendar to take its place…we shall see if that story gathers any momentum over the coming weeks.
Due to the geographical location of the Shanghai F1 Grand Prix, decisions need to be planned many weeks ahead to allow teams enough time to haul their air freights to the destination. Unlike the European season of races which features the luxury of the behemoth that is a Formula One Team Motorhome, much more needs to be sent ahead of time for the fly away races and this is why decisions of race cancellations need to be made sooner rather than later.
As such, whilst the strategy meeting is yet to announce their decision the motoring world, the online world of race fans are resigned to the fact that there will be no race in Shanghai during 2020
For this to be the outcome – a complete cancellation – would hardly be a surprise seeing how Formula E's scheduled race in Sanya on March 21 has been cancelled and even before this the country had made such bold moves as to move back The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing an entire year to March 2021; meanwhile all Chinese football authorities have suspended matches…indefinitely.
All this speculation came following the announcement less than a week ago of the World Health Organisation declaring a world health emergency as the virus continues to emerge in new countries. However, what has not been so widely advertised is the fact that the report also said:
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries.”
China has plans in place to halt the outbreak and such plans include the announcement made by the Shanghai Sports Federation.
The Coronavirus has claimed 493 lives globally to date and this is what matters in the grand scheme of things. For a disease which at present has no vaccine drastic measures are being taken.
Nations worldwide have closed their borders to China and now it seems like the city of Shanghai has no choice but to close its own border to the FIA and the Formula 1 Circus…for now at least.