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Coronavirus pandemic puts brakes on Vietnam's F1 auto race


Organisers of Vietnam's first Formula 1 auto race have announced the postponement of the racing event scheduled in April amid the coronavirus pandemic that has to date killed quite 5,000 people worldwide.

"This has been a awfully difficult decision to achieve," the organisers said in a very statement on Friday night.

It is unclear when the third-round race, originally set from April 3 to five, are rescheduled, or when ticket buyers, sponsors and partners are informed of updates.

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The announcement follows similar moves from other sporting groups, because the pandemic affects an array of events from basketball championships to conference tournaments on an unprecedented scale worldwide.

Before Friday's announcement, the organisers had not commented a few possible postponement, at the same time as the quantity of coronavirus cases in Vietnam escalated after a previously successful containment strategy.

On March 6, the race's official website promoted a young Formula 1 driver who would be popular among Hanoi crowds while its official Facebook page announced "F1 hospitality packages" featuring access to a luxury lounge, the prospect to satisfy legendary F1 drivers, and therefore the opportunity to work out and touch the championship trophy.

On the identical evening, Hanoi confirmed its first infection case and Vietnam's 17th case.

As recently as March 10, the web site ran a orientate a way to choose the most effective ticket category, with no updates on the epidemic in Vietnam. By then, the country had announced its 32nd case of infection.

The number of coronavirus cases in Vietnam has now risen to 53, with six new cases announced on Saturday. of these cases, 16 were previously cured and discharged from the hospital.

First for Hanoi
Meanwhile, until Friday, followers of the race's Facebook page had voiced their frustration, asking whether the event would be cancelled and refunds would be applied.

Vingroup, Vietnam's largest private conglomerate, had signed a multi-year contract with Formula 1 to host the auto race.

Hanoi would are Formula 1's fourth 2020 auto race in Asia where races also are established in China, Japan and Singapore, which hosts an evening race each September.

The decision to cancel the Vietnam leg of the race came each day after the Australian auto race was cancelled. McLaren Racing had earlier announced its withdrawal from the Australian race, after one in every of its team members tested positive for the deadly infection in Melbourne.

At least 14 members of the McLaren racing team, including the confirmed case, are under quarantine for 14 days, McLaren said on its website on Friday. That effectively knocked the McLaren team out of the race, still because the now-postponed Bahrain auto race, which was already scheduled to run without spectators on March 22.

'Health and safety first'
In February, the Chinese auto race scheduled for April 17-19 was also postponed.

Formula 1 on Saturday tweeted that it and therefore the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile expected to start the Championship in Europe at the tip of May. However, this tentative schedule are reviewed regularly thanks to the rise of recent coronavirus cases on the continent.

Six-times Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton endorsed the cancellation of the Australian auto race on his social media account on Friday, saying, "This is that the right decision."

"No one wants this, we all want to urge in our cars and obtain racing, but we've got to be realistic and that we must put health and safety first," British people racer wrote.

At a conference on Thursday, Hamilton had questioned why the season-opening race in Melbourne was still going ahead despite the health crisis, stating the rationale as "cash is king".

Enrico Zanarini, an Italian manager of Formula 1 drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Antonio Fuoco, said both were "very happy" about the choice.

"They won't lose from this cancellation because they need a solid contract with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari and their careers aren't in danger," Zararini told Al Jazeera.

Citing Forbes, Maxfield Brown, a South Korea-based American business advisor, said the cancellation of the Vietnam race could cost $35m in hosting fees and quite $11m for the local sponsor.

"F1's best course of action at this stage are to clarify their intention to refund customers immediately and to supply updates on social media as often as possible," he told Al Jazeera.

Vietnam imposes new restrictions
On Friday, the globe Health Organization (WHO) warned that Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic.

After the WHO announcement, Vietnam said on Saturday that citizens of the uk and countries within the Schengen Area, still as those that have visited those countries within the past 14 days, even in transit, would be denied entry to Vietnam as of March 15. The restriction are in situ for 30 days.

Vietnam has also temporarily suspended the unilateral visa waiver for citizens of Italy, South Korea, still as eight other European countries; Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain, Sweden, the uk, Germany and France. Many of the race participants come from Europe.

'Patient 17'
As the coronavirus cases in Vietnam re-emerged after several days without new cases, the 17th patient has been targeted online, accused of shattering the country's hope of being cleared of the virus.

The patient, who is currently being treated in a very Hanoi hospital, is that the only person said by their full name on the govt portal's updates on the city's cases.

Twelve of the country's new cases flew on a Vietnam Airlines flight with the 17th patient, who was in business class. one in every of them is Vietnamese and therefore the remainder are foreigners.

Vietnam's Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung, who sat several rows from the infected patient, tested negative. he's currently in self-quarantine reception.

Local media reports said the patient, who visited London, Milan and Paris and returned to Hanoi, has two passports, one Vietnamese, the opposite British.

Upon her return, she reportedly used her Vietnamese passport, which didn't show an Italian visa stamp, leading to authorities becoming unaware of her stay in Europe, where the cases have now exploded to the tens of thousands.

Ngoc Ha, a Japanese language teacher in Hanoi, expressed frustration about the return of the virus to Vietnam and the way it resulted within the cancellation of her classes. But she also said that she disapproved of how the infected patient was being treated, with people seeking out her personal information and posting it online.

On Friday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered "all stricken areas" to be sterilised to minimise risk. Everyone was also required to wear face masks publically places, while foreigners were requested to wear them upon arrival, the PM said.

At the identical time, Vietnamese financial institutions were directed by the banking concern of Vietnam to disinfect cash, and store the sterilised banknotes for a period, before returning them to the market.

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