The Qatar MotoGP season opener has been cancelled over fears for the Covid-19 epidemic, series organisers Dorna have announced, although the Moto2 and Moto3 contests will go ahead.
Dorna have released a press release detailing the reason for the cancellation, with the ever-growing fears of the virus continuing to spread throughout Italy forcing them to shelve the race.
All flights from Italy have been banned from entering Qatar, and with several Italian teams taking part in the championship-including the factory Ducati and Aprilia squads-the decision was made to scrap the premier class contest completely.
Both Moto2 and Moto3 will continue to take place by virtue of the riders and teams having already travelled to the region for their collective test, which wound up today. A revised schedule will be announced in due course.
“The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has resulted in Qatar travel restrictions being brought into force that affect passengers from Italy, amongst other countries,” read the statement from Dorna.
“As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past 2 weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
“Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP class – both on track and off – and therefore the decision has been taken to cancel premier class competition.
“As the teams and riders of the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes were already in Qatar for the three-day official test at Losail International Circuit earlier this week, the races of both categories will be possible.
“The lightweight and intermediate classes will therefore compete in their season opener from the 6th to 8th March.”
The knock-on effect of Qatar’s scrapping is that the Thailand Grand Prix will become the effective season opener-although with the first confirmed death as a result of the virus cases coming to light in the country-this event could be in question too-as could potentially the United States GP next month.
Several high-profile sporting events have already been delayed or abandoned altogether as Covid-19-also known as the coronavirus- continues to spread throughout the world.
Italy is the most recently affected nation in regards to sporting cancellations, having been forced to cancel five Serie A football matches, as well as the country’s Six Nations rugby match against Ireland-initially due to be held in Dublin.
In addition, DTM’s pre-season test originally scheduled for Monza mid-way through next month has been shifted to the Hockenheimring in Germany, while the GT World Challenge opener-also due to be held at Monza-is in danger of being cancelled and replaced with a round in Spain.
The first round of the 2020 Formula 1 campaign- the Australian GP- is also reportedly in trouble due to Covid-19 having now claimed lives in Australia.