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Coronavirus looms over Vietnam Grand Prix


Coronavirus looms over Vietnam Grand Prix

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LONDON – Vietnam’s first Formula One grand prix will go ahead as planned on April 5, the sport said on Wednesday, despite continuing concern about the coronavirus epidemic that has caused the cancellation of China’s race.

The street race in Hanoi will be the third round of the season and the local promoter said the last 150 metres of the 23-turn 5.6km track was laid last week along the start/finish line.

“We are ready and can’t wait to welcome the world to Hanoi very soon,” Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation CEO Le Ngoc Chi said in a statement.

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey told analysts on a 2019 Quarter Four earnings call that “all systems are go” and he would visit Hanoi on March 16, the day after the Australian season-opener in Melbourne.

“The Vietnam Grand Prix will take place on April 5 in Hanoi. And to anticipate another question, we do plan to proceed with the race,” he said.

“We’re heading to Melbourne, heading to Bahrain and heading to Hanoi.”

The Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for Shanghai on April 19 was called off this month and there has been media speculation about the chances of Vietnam’s race going ahead as the virus spreads globally.

A badminton Olympic qualifier scheduled for Vietnam from March 24 to 29 was postponed to June on Tuesday due to “strict health protection restrictions in place in Vietnam”.

Australian Grand Prix organisers are planning for the season-opener to go ahead at Albert Park on March 15 despite government warnings that “all options”, including cancellation, would be considered if an outbreak of the coronavirus occurs.

“We will take our guidance and lead from the health authorities and fall into line with their instructions. We have to be open-minded,” Australian Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott told local media on Wednesday.  (Reuters)