The impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has hit MotoGP, with the 2020’s first race called off due to quarantine measures and the second race postponed—for now.
It’s a bit complicated, but here’s what’s going on. The first race of the 2020 MotoGP season takes place in Qatar, where they run under nighttime lighting at Losail International Circuit, pictured above. The opener was scheduled for this coming weekend. Before the racing actually starts, there’s pre-season testing at Qatar as well. The GP premiere class of the series was testing last weekend in Qatar, then went back to their respective homes. This weekend, the Moto2 and Moto3 support classes were doing their own pre-season testing in Qatar.
Then, earlier today, the Qatar government announced quarantine measures were being enacted for countries affected by COVID-19. Travelers from these countries will be quarantined by Qatar authorities for 14 days upon arrival.
Since many MotoGP racers and other personnel are from Italy, one of the countries that’s been very notably affected by COVID-19, those racers, mechanics, officials and anyone else would be quarantined as soon as they arrived in Qatar, meaning they’d miss the race. This would be unfair to the teams and probably also seen as unfair to fans, so MotoGP’s called the whole GP race off.
However, as Moto2 and Moto3 were in the country before the quarantine was announced, those classes don’t face any restrictions from authorities, and will race this weekend.
Then on to the Thai GP. There’s little information for now, but this has just been posted to MotoGP.com:
“As the global outbreak of coronavirus continues to develop, the Thai government has communicated that it won’t be possible to hold the OR Thailand Grand Prix on its original date. The FIM, IRTA and Dorna therefore regret to announce that the event, due to be held on the 22nd of March in Buriram, has been postponed.
The FIM, IRTA and Dorna are currently evaluating if an alternative date is possible for the event later this season.
Further updates will be published as soon as available.
So the Thai round is now postponed, with an alternative date possible—maybe. And then, there’s the Austin GP after that. Will flights into the US face restrictions by April? What about the Italian races this year, considering the quarantine measures going on in-country there? With all the questions surrounding COVID-19’s spread, it’s looking like the 2020 MotoGP season is going to be a mish-mashed jumble. MotoGP says it’s revising the schedule right now, but who knows if whatever they come up with will even be a valid plan in a couple of weeks’ time?