The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled for the second straight year due to issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The race weekend at Albert Park in Melbourne was due to start on 18 November. But the Victorian government said the slow vaccine rollout in the state and the federal government’s recent decision to halve its cap on international arrivals made it impossible to give assurances over the event.
The MotoGP event at Phillip Island, scheduled for 24 October, has also been cancelled for the second year on the spin.
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Martin Pakula, the Victorian Sports Minister, said: “Given the very low national two-dose-vaccination numbers, and given the decision of national cabinet on Friday, we’re simply not in a position to give F1 management or MotoGP the sorts of guarantees and assurances and comfort that they need this week.”
Australian Grand Prix
Image credit: Getty Images
Pakula added: “I understand that, for motorsports fans and major events fans, this is very disappointing news.
“But some 1,600 visitors in November with the bespoke quarantine arrangements needed in an environment where national cabinet has decided to halve international arrivals and not look at different quarantine arrangements probably until the beginning of 2022 really makes it extremely difficult for us to give those organisations the sort of guarantees that they require.”
Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said he expected a full season to be completed without a race in Melbourne.
He added: “While it is disappointing we won’t be racing in Australia this season, we are confident we can deliver a 23-race season in 2021 and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix.
“We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded.”
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The Australian GP was cancelled at the last minute in March 2020 as the global Covid-19 pandemic emerged.
Dan Andrews, the premier of Victoria, said holding major sporting events like the Grand Prix was “very challenging” given Australia’s slower than expected vaccine rollout.
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“When you’ve halved the number of people coming into the country, when you’ve got 10% of people vaccinated when you want and need 70 or 80% to have had the jab, we’re not at that point.
“The timing doesn’t quite line up, and that makes it very, very challenging.”
Planning will begin for the return of both motorsports events in 2022. Andrews added he is confident the Australian Open tennis grand slam, due to be held in January 2022, will go ahead when Australia will have administered more vaccines.
The next race in the calendar is the British Grand Prix on July 18th.
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