TOKYO: The Japanese Formula One Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the second year in a row, race organisers said on Wednesday.
The race was scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 8-10 at the Suzuka circuit and the cancellation follows the abandonment of Singapore’s Oct. 1-3 night race.
“Following ongoing discussions with the promoter and authorities in Japan the decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” Formula One said in a statement.
“Formula One is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.”
Japan recently hosted the Olympic Games in Tokyo without the presence of spectators, while the Paralympic competitions, scheduled from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5, will also be held without fans in attendance.
Honda, owner of the Suzuka circuit and title sponsor of the race, is pulling out of Formula One as an engine manufacturer at the end of the season.
“As Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula One project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event,” said head of brand operations Koji Watanabe.
Honda partner Red Bull’s two teams, with rookie Yuki Tsunoda -- the first Japanese driver in seven years -- racing for AlphaTauri.
Formula One is currently operating under strict health protocols, with teams in ‘bubbles’ and frequent testing for COVID-19 of all personnel and media.
The cancellation of the Suzuka race could spell trouble for the Turkish Grand Prix which was added to the calendar as a replacement for Singapore’s cancelled race.
The race at the Istanbul Park circuit was slotted in a week before Suzuka and one week after the Russian round in Sochi but there will now be more reshuffles to the final race calendar expected within weeks.
Turkey is on the British government’s “red list” of countries which require 10 days of hotel quarantine for returning travellers.
By staying in Japan for a few extra days, Formula One could have bypassed that quarantine requirement but other options are under consideration.
There has been talk of a second race in the United States, at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, and a possible first in Qatar.
“Formula One has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula One events this year and beyond,” the governing body said.