Australian Grand Prix race organisers insist the opening round of the 2020 Formula 1 season will go ahead as planned, despite concerns about the outbreak of the coronavirus.

In a statement issued on Monday, organisers for the Melbourne race - which is scheduled to take place on March 15 - said the race was “all systems go” and would not be affected by fears regarding the developing COVID-19 situation.

Doubts have risen over whether the Australian GP would take place with the Australian Federal Government currently assessing further travel bans from countries most-affected by the coronavirus, after already imposing restrictions on Iran. 

Italy has the most confirmed cases of the disease in Europe and there are concerns how strict travel bans or quarantine procedures could impact on the 2020 season-opener, given that Ferrari, AlphaTauri and F1 tyre supplier Pirelli have bases close to the worst-affected areas in the country.

But with Australia still allowing travel from Italy for the time being, race organisers have stressed they have received assurances from F1 that the Albert Park race will be “going ahead”.

“We are all systems go and gearing up for the 25th Formula 1race in Melbourne next week,” Australian GP CEO Andrew Westacott said.

“The finishing touches are being put on the circuit, Formula 1 freight and personnel are arriving in the coming days and we’re looking forward to opening the gates to the public on Thursday 12 March.

“The health and safety of everyone at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 2020 is paramount.

“The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has robust health, safety and emergency management arrangements in place at each event and we are working collaboratively with health agencies and related government and emergency services organisations in addressing this matter.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation in the lead-up to the Grand Prix and are taking guidance from subject matter experts, including Victorian and National Chief Health Officers and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

“At this stage there is no indication of further travel bans, nor is there any indication that Formula 1and the teams will not be arriving as usual.

“Formula 1 has again confirmed overnight that the Australian Grand Prix is going ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne.”

Despite doubts rising over whether the second round in Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled, organisers for the race stressed they are confident the race will be unaffected. 

“The Bahrain International Circuit is working closely with all relevant Government departments, including The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior, to mitigate the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)," a Bahrain Grand Prix organiser spokesperson told PA.

“Ministries have activated a number of public health measures, including but not limited to restricting travel from high-risk areas, introducing an extensive screening programme, and establishing quarantine facilities for suspected cases.

“It is in the context of these initiatives that the BIC is confident its preparations will result in a successful and safe Grand Prix later this month.”

 

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