Bahrain Grand Prix to be held behind closed doors in latest coronavirus measure

Grandstands will be empty for this year's Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, after spectators are banned from attending to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Bahrain circuit grandstand

Grand Prix Photo

Spectators will be banned from the Bahrain Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, in the latest coronavirus disruption to this season’s Formula 1 calendar.

Grandstands will be empty for F1’s first closed-doors race in an attempt to prevent the virus spreading between fans.

A statement released on Sunday morning — 14 days before the scheduled race — said that it would have been impossible to maintain the Kingdom’s “aggressive social distancing measures” had spectators been allowed in.

“In consultation with our international partners and the Kingdom’s national health Taskforce, Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix as a participants-only event,” it said.

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“As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and race goers is a tremendous responsibility. Given the continued spread of Covid-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travellers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time. But to ensure that neither the sport, nor its global supporter base, is unduly impacted, the race weekend itself will still go ahead as a televised event.”

“Bahrain’s own early actions to prevent, identify and isolate cases of individuals with Covid-19 has been extremely successful to date. The approach has involved rapid, proactive measures, identifying those affected by the virus, of which the overwhelming majority of cases relate to those travelling into the country by air. Aggressive social distancing measures have further increased the effectiveness of preventing the virus’ spread, something that would clearly be near impossible to maintain were the race to have proceeded as originally planned.

“We know how disappointed many will be by this news, especially for those planning to travel to the event, which has become a cornerstone event of the international F1 calendar, but safety has to remain our utmost priority.”

The statement suggests that cancellation of the event was the only alternative; one chosen already chosen by China, which postponed April’s Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Bahrain has said that it will be introducing special measures to ensure that F1 staff will be able to get to the circuit. Italian visitors are currently required to stay in quarantine for 14 days, but a screening procedure on arrival will allow teams to bypass this.