Bahrain GP to take place behind closed doors amid coronavirus fears
Bahrain race will be 'participants-only event' on March 22
Last Updated: 08/03/20 4:56pm
The 2020 Bahrain GP will be held without fans in attendance due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
The Grand Prix is set to take place on March 22, a week after next weekend's season-opener in Australia, but with coronavirus cases growing in the Gulf kingdom, Bahrain race organisers say it will only be a televised event.
"In consultation with our international partners and the Kingdom's national health Taskforce, Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year's Bahrain Grand Prix as a participants-only event," a statement read on Sunday.
"As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and race goers is 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."
The statement added Bahrain's early actions to "prevent, identify and isolate" cases of individuals with coronavirus have been "extremely successful" so far.
"Aggressive social distancing measures have further increased the effectiveness of preventing the virus' spread, something that would clearly be near impossible to maintain were the race to have proceeded as originally planned," it read.
"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 Italian government, meanwhile, added further concerns for F1's opening races on Saturday night when they announced anyone living in several of its northern regions would be quarantined.
Individuals from those areas must be granted special permission to travel until April 3 - and Ferrari are based in Modena, one of the worst-affected regions.
The Australian GP, on March 15, is still set to go ahead as planned - with spectators.