Valentino Rossi says he is “cheering for the people” in regions hit by the coronavirus including his hometown Tavullia and says he will not make a decision on his MotoGP future until the season can start.

The nine-time world champion has effectively been in lockdown for the past two weeks following Italian government and health authority orders while the foreseeable future remains unclear during the pandemic until the situation improves.

Rossi has described some areas in Italy “like a war zone” due to the high rate of infections and deaths in Italy which is the worst-hit country in Europe with over 53,000 cases and 4,800 deaths so far.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia via a video call from his home, the 41-year-old says he is supporting his fans and fellow Italians amid the coronavirus crisis.

Rossi has been part of the social distancing social media campaign in Italy while his VR46 team have been raising funds to support local hospitals.

“Here in Tavullia the situation is difficult, unfortunately many people are sick here and also in Pesaro. We must all hold on, waiting for this moment to pass,” Rossi said.

“We cheer for the people of Bergamo and Brescia. I have seen very bad images, it looks like a war zone. I have many friends there and right now I’m the one cheering them on, while usually I’m the one they cheer for.”

With the coronavirus superseding all major sport including MotoGP, Rossi says a decision on his own future will not come into his thoughts until he completes a handful of races when action resumes.

Rossi’s situation had been set to dominate the early 2020 MotoGP paddock talk, with the Italian already set to step down from the factory Yamaha team from 2021 with Fabio Quartararo coming in as his replacement.

The Italian has already been guaranteed a full factory Yamaha ride for 2021 if he opts to continue racing, which would effectively see him slot into the Petronas Yamaha squad, but he wants to assess his own competitiveness over the opening rounds of the 2020 season before making a final call on whether he would continue racing or retire at the end of 2020.

“It was hard, because we understood that we would not have run just on Sunday before leaving [for Qatar],” Rossi said about the 2020 MotoGP opener being cancelled for the premier class.

“This has messed up my plans, we will have to understand when we will be able to run. Things seem to go long, they have cancelled the European Championship in football.

“As for my choice, I was hoping to decide whether to continue after the first part of the season, but now everything slips. I would like a few races to understand how competitive I can be, that would be important.”

Rossi says he is keeping race-ready in the gym he has in his home and remains busy despite being stuck at home.

“Here at home I have a gym, I am training and I try to keep fit,” he said. “I spend a lot of time in a playful way!

“I watch many movies and TV series with Francesca. Then we play a lot of simulators, like GT.”

Provisionally, the 2020 MotoGP season is set to start at Jerez with the Spanish Grand Prix on May 1-3, but the current calendar looks set to suffer further postponements amid the global coronavirus pandemic. The latest indication is the three rounds in May - Jerez, Le Mans and Mugello - are set to be called off with a possible opener planned at Circuit de Catalunya on June 5-7.



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