FIA President Jean Todt has penned an open letter to its members, urging unity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that “is not only a health crisis, but also a financial, social, political and human one”.
The letter, in full, reads as follows:
The crisis that we are living through today is unprecedented, and the consequences are being felt all around the world. Having started in Asia, it spread to the entire planet, causing deep concern and anxiety everywhere. We have been forced to question not only our activities within motor sport, mobility and tourism, but also how our modern societies are evolving. The Covid-19 is causing an unparalleled upheaval of the world as we know it. Priorities will change. Economies have come to a standstill, and so have cities. This pandemic has shaken those beliefs that we thought were unshakeable. This is not only a health crisis, but also a financial, social, political and human one. Together, we must face and resolve this immense challenge.
Like you and more than three billion men, women and children, I am staying home, in line with governmental guidelines and those of the WHO. Nonetheless, I am at your side, here to provide support, and you can reach me at any time. It is of utmost importance that we stay in contact whilst protecting ourselves. I am convinced that through our willpower, discipline and determination, we will win this battle.
During this difficult period, I have decided to write to you twice a month in order to keep you regularly updated on the effects that this pandemic is having on our activities and the measures that we are taking to deal with it. The Deputy President for Sport, Graham Stoker, the Deputy President for Automobile Mobility and Tourism, Thierry Willemarck, and the President of the Senate, Brian Gibbons, are also available and will assist you in any way that they can. Furthermore, an ad hoc working group chaired by Gérard Saillant is following the situation closely and is at your disposal should you have any questions.
All FIA staff members have been working from home since the lockdown began, and I would like to express my gratitude to them for the responsiveness and flexibility that they have shown.
As you are aware, the global Motorsports calendar has been greatly disrupted. Other Sports events including the Toyko Olympic Games have been cancelled or postponed. For our part, we hope to be able to reschedule as many races as possible before the end of the year, but there are still too many unknowns to make any announcements yet, and the safety of our clubs, teams and fans is our top priority. In F1, the WMSC has decided the replacement of the August break by a spring one lasting at least three weeks, which is already underway, and the postponement of the implementation of the new F1 regulations from 2021 to 2022.
For the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk to Club Presidents and to see how much the FIA family has been affected by what the world is going through right now. Every one of our members is a victim, both due to the cancellation of events and the repercussions on their various activities, revenue sources and incomes, without taking into account the complexities involved in setting up home working for those whose jobs require them to be in the field. We are fully aware of the difficulties that you are encountering and are ready to help you.
It is for this reason that, after consulting with the Leadership Team and FIA senior management, we have decided to defer the due date for all FIA membership subscription payments until the end of September. We understand that for many Member Clubs cash flow is a key concern and there is no reason for member Clubs to be writing cheques to the FIA at this time.
The FIA can also provide a useful service, helping its members to stay in touch and to share experiences in response to the crisis that we all face. I am pleased to say that we have been able to respond quickly, launching the free-of-charge Stay Tuned initiative, providing an online forum for learning and exchange open to all FIA members. Starting 6 April, sessions will combine academic content and experience-sharing for up to 200 participants. There is already strong interest, so I urge you to respond quickly and encourage the relevant members of your team to register now.
Lastly, I would like to commend the actions that are taking shape across all continents led by a number of FIA Member Clubs. There are endless examples of support being given to local populations and medical teams, whether in the form of financial help or the manufacture of masks like in Vietnam, or helping develop breathing aids like the F1 teams in the United Kingdom (Project Pitlane), or even assisting medical staff like many Clubs are doing.
Naturally, I encourage you to add to these stories of camaraderie and respond to the “Call to Clubs” that you received at the beginning of the week, inviting you to let us know about any actions that you might be able to take. It is important to share them with one another. They are proof that you are all committed and acting responsibly, and that the FIA knows how to adapt to the most complicated and unexpected of situations.
Incidentally, our Federation has put in place a platform for exchanging information between the 150 doctors and 290 hospitals approved by the FIA, to enable the identification and dispatch of emergency medical equipment in the areas that are most in need of it.
We have also created the hashtag #RaceAgainstCovid to bring together and promote the automotive family’s initiatives against the Coronavirus pandemic.
We will overcome this crisis and unite in taking on the challenges of tomorrow – of that I am certain. We must preserve as best we can what ties us all together, within both Motor Sport and Mobility, namely our core values of endurance, resilience, the quest for excellence, courage and solidarity.
And, so that this challenge is not futile, we must learn from it as well: we must let ourselves think outside the box, act differently. We must find new ways of achieving goals, in regards to road safety for example, or to our championships’ sustainability when budgets might be reduced post Covid-19.
I very much hope that we will come out of this stronger than ever. I would like to express, once again, my solidarity during these difficult times.
Take care of yourselves and your families,