Indycar have followed the global trend of major sports by calling off this weekend’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener as COVID-19 plays havoc with the globe, with particular impact on sporting events at all levels.
The Indycar decision follows Formula E’s early announcement that their season was on hold, and on Thursday Formula 1 clumsily cancelled the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, shortly before deciding to not go ahead with the races in Bahrain and Vietnam.
The FIA World Endurance Championship is also suffering under the same plague as are sports events at all levels across the globe.
IndyCar was scheduled to open its season Sunday on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg without fans. F1e also cancelled its season-opening race in Australia, leaving the first weekend of global motorsports without a major event.
“After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT Indycar Series events through April.
This begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which was to begin today and run through Sunday, March 15 and continues through the AutoNation Indycar Challenge at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas which was to take place April 24-26.
Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this Indycar season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority.
We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule.”
Defending series champion Josef Newgarden received word of the cancellation standing in the lobby of his hotel just a few feet from the entrance to the street course.
“Crazy times we are living in, man. Crazy times,” Newgarden said.
Meanwhile, Associated Press report that NASCAR only suspended Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both events were already scheduled to be run without spectators.
NASCAR said the decision to postpone the next two weeks “is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport.”
As college and professional sports leagues cancelled events or postponed their seasons one by one, NASCAR, IndyCar and F1 were left as the only entities planning to press ahead this weekend. Finally, even the prospect of staging the races Saturday and Sunday without fans was deemed to be unsafe.
There was no announcement of any plans to reschedule the races.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus within a few weeks.
Similar chaos reigns in the world of two-wheels where the MotoGP and World Superbikes are also affected by cancelled races.
Major international motorsport events affected by COVID-19 at time of publishing:
- Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15 cancelled.
- Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir on March 22, no spectators.
- Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 postponed.
- Formula E season suspended until further notice.
- Indycar call of all races in March and April.
- 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on March 21-22 postponed to November.
- NASCAR: Atlanta 500 on March 15; Miami 400 on March 22, no spectators.
- Qatar MotoGP in Doha on March 8 cancelled.
- Thailand MotoGP in Buriram on March 22 postponed to Oct. 4.
- Aragon MotoGP in Spain moved from Oct. 4 to Sept. 27.
- Americas MotoGP in Austin, Texas on April 5 postponed to Nov. 15.
- Argentina MotoGP in Termas de Rio Hondo on April 19 postponed to Nov. 22.
- Valencia MotoGP in Spain on Nov. 15 moved to Nov. 29.
- World Superbikes Qatar Round in Lusail on March 15 postponed.
- World Superbikes Spanish Round in Cadiz on March 29 postponed to Oct. 25.
- World Superbikes French Round in Magny-Cours on Sept. 27 postponed to Oct. 4.