Spectator attendance at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez - predicted to top 240,000 over the three days, with 130,000 on race day alone - could be significantly reduced due to fans' fears over swine flu.

Though the outbreak has thus far been felt most keenly in Mexico, where more than 150 people have died from it, repercussions are also now being experienced in Europe, with confirmed cases in England, Scotland and, most prominently of all it has been claimed, in the Catalunya region of Spain.

Whilst Jerez is located at the opposite (southern) end of the country, and no public warnings have been issued regarding the Spanish MotoGP round, German health minister Ulla Schmidt has warned that any events where thousands of people mix are the easiest way for the virus to accelerate out of hand.

She has even suggested that a fan-free Spanish F1 Grand Prix be held at Barcelona (in Catalunya) on 10 May.

"Everyone understands that there cannot be a major gathering of 70,000 people, if thousands of them could become infected," Schmidt told Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

After two weather-interrupted opening rounds, in Qatar and Japan, MotoGP is hoping for a problem free weekend in Spain.

MotoGP's Catalan Grand Prix, also held at Barcelona, is due to take place on 14 June.


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