MotoGP cancels Qatar season opener; Thailand round postponed

Motorcycle racing Championship MotoGP will not go ahead with its season opener in Qatar this year due to travel restrictions brought about by the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s the latest motorsports event cancelled because of the spread of the virus.

The MotoGP season opener was scheduled for March 8 in Qatar.

“Due to Qatar travel restrictions brought into force affecting passengers from Italy (amongst other countries), the premier class will not race at the Losail circuit,” the Federation of International Motorcycling (FIM) announced.

However, the Moto2 and Moto3 world championship races will go ahead as planned in Qatar as riders and teams were already in the country preparing for the event.

As the coronavirus has spread, Italy has become the hardest-hit European country with 34 deaths and over 1,600 people infected.

“As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past two weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days,” added the FIM.

There are six elite class riders from Italy- seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, 2019 runner-up Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci, Francesco Bagnaia, Franco Morbidelli and Andrea Iannone.

Ducati and Aprilia are leading Italian manufacturers. MotoGP riders and teams were in Qatar from Feb 22-24 for the final session of winter testing.

Along with the Qatar round, the Buri Ram MotoGP in Thailand, scheduled to start on March 22, also stands cancelled for an indefinite period due to the virus outbreak.