The Isle of Man TT has been cancelled, due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak spreading across Europe.

The island’s leaders announced the move today, although it hardly came as a surprise. There’s been significant discussion about cancelling the North West 200 street circuit race, which leads up to the TT and can be important for qualifying purposes. More importantly, although there are no current cases of COVID-19 on the Isle of Man, authorities believe the risk would be too high if they allowed the thousands of usual TT visitors to flood the island for this year’s event.

This year, the TT was scheduled to run May 30-June 13.

The cancellation might come as a surprise to some, given the TT’s reputation for hard-nosed racing in the face of abject danger, but the reality is that a pandemic outbreak endangers not just racers, but also thousands of the island’s residents.

Although it’s still weeks away, the island had sold thousands of tickets and passes. Authorities say those will be refunded in due course. They have also not yet announced cancellation of the Manx GP or Classic TT events, which are scheduled to run in late summer.

The official statement from Laurence Skelly, the island’s Minister of Enterprise, read

“The decision to cancel has not been taken lightly and all options including postponement and delaying the decision have been considered in detail.

“Representatives from the Isle of Man Government will now discuss the implications with all relevant businesses, stakeholders and individuals affected by this cancellation, which it recognises will be significant. With the visitor restriction in place for the foreseeable future we wanted to make the decision now to give businesses, visitors and all involved stakeholders time to manage the impact going forward.

“The Isle of Man, and the Isle of Man TT, are faced with unique challenges regarding COVID-19 and making this decision will provide certainty to teams, competitors, sponsors and stakeholders of the event and to visitors across the globe. The decision also aims to provide reassurance for our residents and healthcare professionals that the health and well-being of the Isle of Man’s residents is the single biggest priority and focus of this Government.”

The last time the IOMTT races were cancelled was in 2001, when the UK was suffering an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and Isle of Man officials ordered the races cancelled to prevent spread of the disease at that point.

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