Next weekend's season-opening Qatar MotoGP will 'proceed as normal' despite growing restrictions on international travel and visa requirements in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

Qatar, which is yet to record a case of coronavirus, is currently placing all passengers from China, South Korea and Iran directly in quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, all arrivals from Italy, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Macao face screening, with anyone whose body temperature is outside of the normal range 'directly transported to Hamad Hospital for a blood test and then quarantined for 14-28 days'.

However, teams have now been alerted that the Qatari government is also no longer issuing a 'visa on arrival' for nationals from Italy or Japan.

Given all the Italian and Japanese riders and mechanics present across the three grand prix classes, and that five of MotoGP's six manufacturers are based in those countries, the potential for disruption is clear. As such, an 'exemption has been granted for participants in MotoGP on the strict condition that information on the travellers is submitted in advance'.

The Qatari authorities will also speed up the process of medical checks should any 'MotoGP participants' (members of the paddock) arriving on direct flights from Japan or Italy fail the temperature test.

'The listed passengers will simply have a body temperature check and if it’s outside the normal range, they will be transported to hospital where they will be free to go in 12 to 48 hours (max) if they are not infected with Coronavirus… passengers on this [MotoGP] list will NOT be taken to quarantine unless they are infected with the virus'.

Meanwhile, 'The position of the FIM and Dorna is unchanged. The [Qatar] Grand Prix, and subsequent events, will proceed as normal.'

Despite the escalating government restrictions worldwide, it is unclear exactly how authorities would react if someone from the MotoGP (or F1) paddock, or a spectator at any major sporting event, tests positive for coronavirus.

For example, if a member of the paddock tests positive during a grand prix weekend, would authorities consider that all members of the paddock have been potentially exposed and immediately place everyone in quarantine for 14 days?

Likewise, if a member of the paddock is diagnosed upon their return home, would the rest of the paddock be told to 'self-isolate' for 14 days? If so, they probably wouldn't be able to travel to the following event.

And in the case of a spectator diagnosed on the Friday or Saturday, will the remainder of the event go ahead without any fans being allowed into the circuit?

After next weekend's Qatar round, MotoGP is due to next travel to Thailand on March 20-22 and Texas from April 3-5.

Thailand, which has had 37 confirmed cases of coronavirus, has given assurances that the Buriram event is not in danger but the impact on what was MotoGP best-attended event of 2019 remains to be seen.

 

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