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Bahrain GP to take place behind closed doors

Bahrain GP to take place behind closed doors
© Reuters
Race weekend begins on March 20.

This month’s Bahrain Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, organisers have announced.

The second round of the Formula One season, due to be stage from March 20-22, has become the latest sporting event to close to the public because of the virus.

A statement from race organisers said: “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.

“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.”

Motor Racing – Formula One World Championship – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit
Lewis Hamilton won last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix (David Davies/PA)

Bahrain has reported over 60 cases of the coronavirus. Officials said the race would take place amid a series of rigorous sanitation measures in the country, including “social distancing”.

The statement added: “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.”

Bahrain’s decision is the latest setback to the Formula One calendar after the Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled to take place in Shanghai in April, was postponed indefinitely last month.

UEFA have confirmed a ban on pre-match handshakes (Jamie Gardner/PA)

In football, players and officials have been told to dispense with pre-match handshakes at all UEFA matches until further notice.

The governing body said in a statement: “This will be applied to all UEFA matches and is in line with recommendations made by the World Health Organisation to minimise potential transmission of COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, UEFA said it remained in “constant contact” with regional and international authorities regarding the impact of the Italian lockdown on the respective European campaigns of Inter Milan and Atalanta.

Marcelo Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds have introduced new measures to combat the coronavirus (John Walton/PA)

Championship leaders Leeds have announced that their women’s team and some of their academy sides will be temporarily moved out of their Thorp Arch training base.

In a statement the club said: “We believe the fact that the facility is shared with our first team leaves us with little choice but to take this action, to protect Marcelo Bielsa’s squad from any risk of coming into contact with anyone who has contracted the virus.”

The Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ cycling teams have both announced they have been released from 10 days of quarantine in the wake of the abandoned UAE Tour and are heading home.

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