Formula One announces the Japanese Grand Prix has been CANCELLED – just six days before the Paralympics are due to start – as health experts fear a Covid ‘disaster’ amid surge in cases
- The Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled due to ‘complexities’ around Covid
- Formula One were set to descend on the Suzuka Circuit for a race on October 10
- Japan has extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other area due to a spike
- It comes after the Singapore Grand Prix was also cancelled earlier this summer
The Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled amid the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Asian country.
Formula One was expected to descend on the Suzuka Circuit for a race on October 10, however organisers confirmed on Wednesday morning that the race has been scrapped.
It comes just over a week since the Olympic Games concluded in Tokyo and just six days before the Paralympics begin in the Japanese capital.
The Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled amid the nation’s ongoing coronavirus crisis
Max Verstappen and Co were set to descend on the Suzuka Circuit for a race on October 10
A Formula One statement read: ‘Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan, the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country.
‘Formula One is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.
‘Formula One has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula One events this year and beyond.’
It is the second year in a row that the race in Japan has not taken place because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Formula One’s Grand Prix weekends are wide-scale operations that require on average 1,000 people to be in the sport’s travelling bubble.
The cancellation leaves the F1 calendar facing a further reshuffle after races in Australia, China, Canada and Singapore were all called off this season.
Japan has extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions due to a spike in Covid
JAPAN’S COVID CRISIS
On Tuesday, Japan extended the country’s state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions and announced new measures covering seven more prefectures to counter a spike in Covid-19 infections.
The current state of emergency, the fourth of the pandemic so far, was due to expire on August 31 but will now last until September 12.
Tokyo announced 4,377 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after a record 5,773 on Friday.
The emergency will now cover nearly 60 per cent of Japan’s population with the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka included.
Less strict ‘quasi-emergency’ measures will be applied to a further 10 prefectures.
Restaurants are being asked to close early and stop serving alcohol in exchange for a subsidy. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a fresh subsidy of 300 billion yen (£1.9bn) to help businesses cope with the fall-out.
Japan has had more than 15,000 COVID-19 related deaths and the nation’s health ministry said this week that the number of seriously ill people has now reached a record 1,603 nationwide.
Turkey filled the void left by the Singapore Grand Prix when it was cancelled due to travel restrictions put in place in the city state, with the alternative race now taking place at Istanbul Park on October 1-3.
It remains to be seen where organisers will shift the cancelled race in Japan to with a Qatar Grand Prix a possibility while a second race in Bahrain is also an option.
The season continues with the Belgian Grand Prix on August 29.
Earlier this week, Japan extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions and announced new measures covering seven more prefectures to counter a spike in Covid-19 infections.
It came after Japanese health experts warned of a ‘disaster’ and urged the government to put measures in place to try and tackle the rise in infections.
The current state of emergency, the fourth of the pandemic so far, was due to expire on August 31 but will now last until September 12. Tokyo announced 4,377 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after a record 5,773 last Friday.
Infections have also jumped in the Mie prefecture, where the Suzuka circuit is located.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga extended Japan’s state of emergency in many areas on Tuesday
‘If infections continue to surge at the current pace, we won’t be able to save lives that could otherwise be saved,’ said Shigeru Omi, the government’s most senior adviser on the virus. ‘This is already happening. The situation is like a disaster.’
All fans will be barred from the Paralympics in Japan – which start on August 24 – just as they were from the recently-completed Tokyo Olympics.
There were a few exceptions made during the Olympics with some fans allowed in outlying areas away from Tokyo. This time, all fans will be barred except the possibility of some children attending a few unspecified events.
Organisers have also asked the public not to come out to view road events.
The decision was announced after a meeting with International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa.
The Paralympics will welcome around 4,400 athletes, a far smaller event than the Olympics with 11,000 athletes.
Estimates suggest about 37 per cent of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated.