MotoGP cancels opening race in Qatar due to coronavirus travel ban

The opening race of the MotoGP season in Qatar will not go ahead because of travel restrictions imposed on passengers from Italy due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Organisers said the event could not take place in capital Doha on March 8 because ‘Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP class – both on track and off’.

MotoGP said in a statement: ‘FIM, IRTA and Dorna regret to announce the cancellation of all MotoGP class sessions at the Grand Prix of Qatar, including the race.

‘The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has resulted in Qatar travel restrictions being brought into force that affect passengers from Italy, amongst other countries.

‘As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past 2 weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

‘Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP class – both on track and off – and therefore the decision has been taken to cancel premier class competition.’

The Moto2 and Moto3 categories will still race due to those teams and riders already being in Qatar for testing there last week.

MotoGp added: ‘As the teams and riders of the Moto2 and Moto3 classes were already in Qatar for the three-day official test at Losail International Circuit earlier this week, the races of both categories will be possible.

‘The lightweight and intermediate classes will therefore compete in their season opener from the 6th to 8th March. The same will apply to the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, which will have two races during the Qatar Grand Prix as originally planned. Stay tuned for a revised schedule.’

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