THE all-electric Formula E motor racing series has switched off plans for a race in the Chinese city of Sanya next month because of the coronavirus epidemic.

The sport will continue to work with its regional partner and local authorities to study the viability of alternative dates should the situation improve, the Formule E and FIA governing bodies said.

The race had been scheduled for March 21 in the coastal resort in Hainan province.

The outbreak of the flu-like virus has killed more than 400 people and infected more than 20,000 in China after it first emerged in Wuhan in Hubei province late last year.

Formula E said the decision was made jointly with the governing FIA and the Chinese federation of motor sports to ensure the health and safety of travelling staff, participants and spectators.

Formula E is widely seen as an excellent showcase for many major motor manufacturers, among them Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Citroen (DS), Jaguar, BMW, Mahindra, Porsche, Nissan and some Chinese brands.

The race would have been the sixth of the championship’s 14 rounds, with Seoul in May and Jakarta in June now the only remaining Asian races.

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The move will put Formula 1 in the spotlight, with Shanghai due to host the Chinese Grand Prix on April 19 as the fourth round of what would be a record 22-race season.

That  is a much bigger event than city-focused Formula E and would normally be expected to draw a weekend crowd of more than 100,000 and bring in fans from outside China.

The sport’s governing body last week said that it was monitoring the situation closely under the direction of medical commission president Professor Gerard Saillant.

“The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motorsport community and the wider public,” it said.

The outbreak has affected numerous international sports events in China. 

Among them was the world indoor athletics championships scheduled to be held in Nanjing over March 13-15, which have now been postponed until next year.

Basketball, badminton and boxing qualifying tournaments for this year’s Tokyo Olympics have also been postponed, rescheduled or moved — while an LPGA Tour golf tournament has been pushed back to next year.

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Organisers pull plug on Formula E as virus sweeps China

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.

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