Formula One confirmed it will cancel this year’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix event in Melbourne, adding to the ranks of major global sports disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision on the race in Australia’s second-largest city was taken after a member of the McLaren Racing team tested positive for coronavirus, Liberty Media Corp.-owned Formula One, the FIA governing body and Australian Grand Prix Corp. said Friday in a statement.
The event, which includes practice and qualifying sessions, attracted 324,000 spectators to Melbourne across four days in 2019, including 102,000 on race day, according to the Victoria state government. Teams had been scheduled to begin a practice session at midday Friday ahead of Sunday’s main race.
Sporting events across the world have been delayed and canceled, or teams required to play in barren stadiums, in response to the risks posed by the virus. The National Basketball Association suspended its season, as did the National Hockey League, while the NCAA said Thursday that it was calling off March Madness, the college-basketball tournament. England’s Premier League will hold an emergency meeting Friday on soccer fixtures after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive to the virus.
Australia’s cricket authority said earlier a three-match series between Australia and New Zealand starting Friday will be played behind closed doors, and a decision would also be made on a T20 series between the two nations scheduled to start March 24 in New Zealand.
Formula One last month postponed this year’s Chinese Grand Prix that had been due to take place in Shanghai on April 17-19, on the virus outbreak. The competition’s next race is scheduled for March 22 in Bahrain.
Formula 1 and the FIA, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), have taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled pic.twitter.com/rHbc7hlNvH
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 12, 2020