UPDATE: The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai was confirmed as postponed a handful of hours after this story went live. The FIA and F1 have announced that the decision has been taken, “to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains of primary concern”.
No replacement date for the race has been announced.
The 2020 Asia GT Festival, which was due to be held at on March 13-15 at the Sepang International Circuit, has been cancelled due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The event, run by Goldenport Enterprises and Country Heights, is an annual festival (first held in 2019) featuring GT cars racing for a significant prize pool, created to “broaden the appeal of China GT”.
The event organisers released a statement explaining the decision:
“Due to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus at the end of 2019; on the 31st of January, the World Health Organisation has deemed the recent outbreak of Coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern.
“While the FIA and the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People’s Republic of China (CAMF) are also paying close attention to the spread of the virus and are taking action towards suspending races that may put its members, participants and audience at-risk contracting the virus.
“With the increase in efforts worldwide to contain the spread of the virus, we as Promotor Asia GT Festival 2020 has contacted various local and international authorities for their advice and made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s race event to 2021 in conjunction with the opening round of the China GT Championship and the Golden Sprint Challenge 2020.
“The health of teams, drivers, sponsors and partners, media, series organisation staff and most importantly race fans are of the utmost importance to us and thus, the decision has been made to adopt measures to try and ensure the safety and well-being of all stakeholders.
“The AGTF 2019 seeing a total pool of over 100 racing vehicles and a crowd of close to 40,000 at the Sepang International Circuit, the organising committee had been busy planning for yet another motorsport extravaganza in Malaysia, with more race cars, bikes, celebrity and entertainment for 2020. Our efforts will now be focused on 2021 to bring you a more exciting fulfilled weekend.”
The Asia GT Festival is not the only motorsport event to be affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The Formula E Sanya E-Prix (originally slated to be held next month) has also been cancelled. Meanwhile, the Asian Le Mans Series entry list for its meetings over the next two weeks in Malaysia and Thailand have taken a hit, with multiple teams unable to make the trip.
Formula One’s race promotors are also having to monitor the situation closely, with the Chinese Grand Prix currently scheduled for April 17-19.