Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019

‘No chance’ Melbourne will ban F1 fans from race due to Coronavirus

2020 Australian Grand Prix

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The head of the Australian Grand Prix says there is ‘no chance’ Sunday’s race could be held behind closed doors due to the spread of the Coronavirus.

The Bahrain Grand Prix promoters announced yesterday their race, which will be held one week later than Melbourne’s, is to go ahead without fans present. “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,” they said.

However Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott ruled out taking the same step at Albert Park. Last year 102,000 spectators attended the race; Westacott noted similar numbers attended a match at Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.

He told Australian radio station SEN there was “not a chance” F1 fans could be excluded from next week’s race. “When you look at 86,000 at the MCG last night and the footy the week after, we’ve got to go around things sensibly and keep moving on through life while taking the necessary precautions.”

Staff from Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Pirelli heading to the race from Italy, where millions have been quarantined due to Coronavirus, are among those who are being screened for the virus on arrival in Australia.

“The AlphaTauri cars and the Ferrari cars are on their way from Avalon [Airport] as we speak, so it’s really good.” Westacott continued. “The key personnel are on their planes.

“Interestingly, the only two people who didn’t hail from Italy were Sebastian Vettel, who came out of Switzerland, and Charles Leclerc coming out of Monaco via Nice. All the others are on their way, and we’re expecting [them to arrive] in the next 12 to 24 hours.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “‘No chance’ Melbourne will ban F1 fans from race due to Coronavirus”

  1. Remember when people were worried that bush fires might cancel the race?
    Its been a bit of a rubbish year so far!

  2. If you are attending the race, please remember to cover your mouth when coughing/sneezing and wash your hands regularly. None of us will want to pass this on to our elderly/immune deficient friends/family members so let’s at least try our best within reason to prevent the spread.

    1. You really think it’s possible to do that with 300k people who are expected to spend many hours in close proximity and eating junk food with their fingers… There is only one safe thing to do and it seems that’s off the table now.

    2. I have an opinion
      9th March 2020, 10:28

      If you are coughing or sneezing, DO NOT ATTEND THE RACE.

      Please, have some civic responsibility.

      1. People are carrying it not displaying symptoms yet and passing it on, that is why mass banning of gatherings should be happening everywhere now. It’s too late if you only cotton on once someone shows potential symptoms. But oh wait MONEY MONEY MONEY..

      2. I spent too much for this to not go!

  3. Great Scott, one man with a brain!

    Thumbs up!

    1. She’ll be right!
      (seven Iranian politicians and government officials have died of covid-19 and counting)

  4. That’s fine as long as the crowd is happy to be quarantined in the stands for four weeks after the race. We’d much rather they didn’t come straight back and spread the virus, thank you.

  5. This decision is absolutely stupid. Only looking for the money, don’t care people’s live. This is deadly virus. Not Only Kill Elder People! Lots of people even the whole family died out in China.

  6. This and the UK stance to not ban any events in the foreseeable future seems like a really poor choice in terms of the long term effects. Cheltenham horses starts this week and my 70yo mum is attending to work serving the public… Look at Italy now, the UK and Australia are not far behind. Seems very short sighted when we could be making decisive proactive choices now to limit the spread. It’s going to be a disaster and one I’m personally worried about.

  7. Finally someone using his brain. This corona virus hysteria has gone on way too long. The media has blown this whole thing way out of proportion and governments are using this to finally let the markets crash (which they have put off way too long). It is all a big theatre!

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      9th March 2020, 23:00

      You forgot /s

  8. For the record : The BNP Paribas Open (AKA, the Indian Wells Masters), scheduled to start this week (March 12th) has just been cancelled. And that tournament is a pretty big deal, the total attendance being generally over 400K.

  9. 100,000 may have attended the cricket yesterday, the majority of them were Aussies. Foreign spectators came from countries that don’t have Coronavirus. F1 is totally different, with many attendees coming from countries that do have Coronavirus. Over the last week, a Melbourne doctor who has just returned from the US is believe to have spread Coronavirus to many people he’s met. Melbourne schools have started to close today.

    The current situation in Melbourne is changing daily. Andrew Westacott could well be eating his words by the weekend, perhaps before then. The Aussie politicians will have the last word and their responsibility won’t end on Sunday night.

  10. It will be interesting to see the data in the weeks following the race. It won’t surprise me if there’s a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases approximately 2 weeks after the race, that could be attributed to the gathering travelling fans from multiple countries.

  11. The problem is that if you follow the logic of cancelling public international gatherings, you really do just have to shut down all international travel and all international airports. So the advice to everyone to just try and be more aware and use some common sense seems like a good compromose.

    1. That “good compromise” of basically doing nothing will kill thousands of people. They aren’t keeping F1 running because they’d feel bad for the fans of they missed out. They don’t want to cancel or close the event to the public because that would cost them massive amounts of money. Melbourne has a population of ~5 million. If somehow only 10% get infected and follow a case fatality rate of 2% that’s 10,000 dead because we don’t want to lock down.

  12. It’s all about money. They don’t want to refund people for their tickets.

    1. They do not need to refund, just hold the booking to next years race.
      I have GS tickets, but my health is more important than sitting in 30 degrees of heat surrounded by possible infected people.

  13. The situation will be pretty fluid over the next few days. There are growing concerns in Australia including a push to isolate Sydney which is a port through which many international visitors may arrive.

    I suspect that the organisers may have the decision taken out of their hands which ultimately is probably what they’d prefer rather than be seen to be the bad guys.

  14. This is a terrible decision to not ban the Grand Prix , and it a a terrible timing
    Just 2 weeks (14 days) right before the school holiday!!
    Think abour the kids , don’t got to the race and spread the virus!!!!

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