The coronavirus outbreak in China has already derailed a number of sporting events in the country and now Formula 1 could be another casualty with the sport assessing their options with the race unlikely to go ahead as per its current schedule.
The virus has already claimed 550 lives and infected 28,000 people in total. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has labelled the outbreak a global health emergency. A Â£520 million three-month plan has reportedly been put in place to contain the spread of the virus.
Several cities in China have been locked down to prevent the virus from spreading and Shanghai's Sports Federation has advised all events to be suspended until the end of the current outbreak. The Chinese Super League has been postponed indefinitely, while the world indoor athletics championship and Formula E's Sanya ePrix have been cancelled.
The focus has now shifted to F1 with the race unlikely to take place as previously scheduled between April 17-19. According to Crash, the F1 Strategy Group meeting took place on Wednesday with the bosses still weighing up their options and are said to be keen to reschedule the race rather than cancel it outright.
The first option was to switch the Chinese race with the Russian Grand Prix later in the year but the organisers of the race in Sochi refused to trade places leaving few options for the F1 Strategy Group. Moving the race to a free weekend later in the year could prove difficult owing to the tightly packed 2020 season run-in which will see teams compete in 9 races in 14 weeks.
Liberty Media, the commercial rights holders of F1, are said to be waiting on the Chinese authorities before making a decision. As the cancellation of the race entirely will have huge financial implications in terms of lost revenue for the owners and organisers.
The report claims that the Chinese authorities could take the decision out of F1's hands and cancel the event owing to restrictions on travel, visas and the 'likely insurance complications' that they will face. The last time an F1 race was cancelled was in 2011 when the Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled owing to month long protests in the Gulf nation.