Bahrain F1 Grand Prix to be held behind closed doors due to coronavirus fears
The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix will go ahead behind closed doors later this month as the country looks to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The Bahrain International Circuit is due to host the second round of the Formula 1 season from March 20-22.
Ticket sales for the event earlier this week had been suspended as authorities weighed up a decision on the event going ahead.
But on Sunday morning, an official statement confirmed that the race will take place behind closed doors.
A statement from the official Bahrain International Circuit read: "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.
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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."
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Bahrain insisted their own strict measures currently in place to limit the spread of the virus in recent weeks would have been severely impacted if thousands of fans travelled for the race.
"Bahrain’s own early actions to prevent, identify and isolate cases of individuals with Covid-19 has been extremely successful to date," the statement added.
"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 first race of the new campaign will see Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and co head to Melbourne next weekend.
MotoGP has already cancelled their season opening event in Qatar and postponed the second race on the calendar in Thailand indefinitely to due corona-related travel restrictions.
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