Formula 1

Chinese Grand Prix cancelled due to coronavirus threat

The FIA has taken the decision to cancel the Shanghai GP, with no date yet proposed for the race. The Vietnam GP is also under consideration.

Chinese Grand Prix in doubt as FIA weighs up coronavirus threat

Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix looks set to be called off following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

World governing body the FIA said on Wednesday it was "closely monitoring the evolving situation" and would do all within its power to "protect the global motor sport community".

The Chinese Grand Prix is scheduled to take place at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 19, as the fourth race in the 2020 season.

However, fears over the spread of the coronavirus disease - which was given the name Covid-19 this week - mean the grand prix now looks doubtful to go ahead as planned.

Whether it could be moved to another slot remains to be seen, with 21 further races meaning the calendar is already crammed. The Chinese Super League season has also been postponed due to the virus, with the death toll rising above 1,000 and over 42,000 confirmed cases within China, according to totals released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.

It was first detected in the city of Wuhan, around 450 miles from Shanghai.

Vietnam Grand Prix also likely to be cancelled

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIA said: "Following the coronavirus epidemic that broke out at the beginning of the year and, to date, has mainly affected China, the FIA is closely monitoring the evolving situation with relevant authorities and its member clubs, under the direction of FIA medical commission president, Professor Gerard Saillant.

"The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public."

It is unclear whether the Vietnam Grand Prix on April 5 will also be affected.

China, in its efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, has been keen to avoid mass gatherings of people, which has led to the postponement of all domestic football in the country.

A women's Olympic football qualifying tournament was moved from Wuhan to Sydney, while World Athletics postponed its World Indoor Championships in Nanjing until 2021.

The Hong Kong Marathon was cancelled, while LPGA golf and Fed Cup tennis events have also been hit.

Snooker's China Open, due to be played in Beijing from March 30 to April 5, was cancelled, as was motorsport's Chinese Formula E Grand Prix, which was set for March 21 in Sanya.

The FIA said, in its February 2 announcement regarding the Formula E race, that the decision had been reached to "ensure the health and safety of its travelling staff, championship participants and spectators".

Fears of a global pandemic have been raised by a number of experts. The WHO has so far advised against restrictions being imposed on international travel.

However, the United States has told its citizens not to travel to China and has instructed those already in the country to "attempt to depart by commercial means", urging those who choose to stay to "stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others, including large gatherings".

The United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel to the Wuhan area and against "all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China", urging British citizens in China to leave where possible.

The UK is home to a host of Formula One teams, including Mercedes, who are based in the Northamptonshire town of Brackley. The McLaren, Williams, Red Bull and Renault teams also have UK bases.