The Bahrain GP leadership has decided to hold the second race of this year’s Formula One championship behind closed doors because of the growing threat of coronavirus and its spread at public gatherings.

Although they initially planned to halt ticket sales so that fewer people would attend the event, the race management decided to take a more radical step and will deny access to all spectators.

“After consulting with our international partners and the national health organization Taskforce, Bahrain has decided to hold this year’s Bahrain GP as an event exclusively for participants,” says a statement issued this morning.

“As a nation hosting Formula One, balancing the health of fans and those who participate in the race is a tremendous responsibility.”

“Due to the global spread of COVID-19, holding a major sporting event open to the public and thousands of international travelers and local fans in close contact would not be the right thing to do at this moment.”

“But to ensure that neither the sport nor its global fan base is affected, the racing weekend will still be held as a television event.”

The news came just hours after Italy announced that it had quarantined 16 million people by April 3 to prevent the virus from spreading further in critical regions, with nearly 6,000 people infected in the country.

GP Bahrain is the second race of this year’s championship scheduled from 20 to 22 March, one week behind the first race in Australia.

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