Coronavirus: Australian Formula One Grand Prix cancelled - confirmed

The opening race of the Formula One season - the Australian Grand Prix - will not go ahead, due to the coronavirus, organisers have confirmed. 

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) said cancellation was within the best interest of everyone, after the McLaren team pulled out in the build-up to Friday's season-opener, after a team member tested positive for the virus. 

"Following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for COVID-19 and the team’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula One convened a meeting of the other nine team principals on Thursday evening," an FIA statement read.

"Those discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead. The FIA and Formula 1, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation [AGPC], have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled." 

The news came as a bombshell, after hospitality staff at the Australian Grand Prix were reportedly told in an email on Friday morning to "disregard" reports suggesting the event had been postponed.

The BBC reports Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen have already flown home.

Four members of the Haas team were also tested for the coronavirus, after showing symptoms, but all returned negative results. Three other personnel from the F1 paddock, whose affiliations were unknown, also returned negative results.

The Chinese Grand Prix has also been postponed. 

The Australian Supercars championship - the undercard to Formula One at Albert Park this weekend - has also postponed its races this weekend.

"Supercars will continue to adhere to government health advice and act to ensure the health and safety of our fans and our people remains our primary focus," said the official announcement.

"Given the cancellation of this weekend's event, we will look to reschedule another event later in the year. We are fortunate that this year's calendar enables us to do so.

"Supercars will continue to closely monitor the situation in line with guidance provided by government agencies."

Other sporting events affected by the coronavirus epidemic this week, include:

  • The inuguaral Piha Pro surfing event has been cancelled due to coronavirus. 
  • The Blackcaps' Chappell-Hadlee series against Austraia will be played behind closed doors. 
  • 'March Madness' - arguably the United States' biggest sporting event, along with the Super Bowl - has been cancelled.
  • The Dutch Eredivisie, Spannish La Liga and Portugal's Primeira Liga football leagues have been suspended.
  • Tennis' ATP Tour has shut down for six weeks. 
  • The Pro14 rugby season has been suspended indefinitely.
  • Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams was caught up in the US coronavirus scare, when the scheduled game between his Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz was abandoned just before tipoff.
  • The NBA has suspended the current season due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other American leagues include the NHL, MLS and MLR.
  • A player from the AFL's Fremantle Dockers has been sent in for a precuationary coronavirus test. The unnamed player came down with flu-like symptoms, after he had contact with a friend who had been in China earlier this year.
  • Black Sticks men and women will not travel to Europe for the latest round of Pro League games in Netherlands and Germany.
  • NZ Breakers and Tall Blacks star Corey Webster has been derailed for a second time, with the Italian basketball league closed down by the epidemic.
  • WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has requested its performers decline handshakes with fans at autograph and meet & greet sessions.
  • Saturday's Ireland v France Six Nations rugby clash, scheduled for Paris, has been postponed, after the French government banned gatherings of more than 1000 people.
  • The Olympic flame lighting ceremony at ancient Olympia on March 19 will take place without spectators, only 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organising committee.
  • FIFA 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers scheduled for March 23-31 and June 1-9 have been postponed.

More to come