Dorna insists ‘there will be a MotoGP season’ amid coronavirus crisis

Dorna stresses the 2020 MotoGP World Championship will happen despite the first two rounds being cancelled over the ongoing Coronavirus crisis

Jack Miller, Cal Crutchlow

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has spoken for the first time since the decision was taken to cancel the upcoming Qatar MotoGP race and postpone the following Thailand MotoGP in response to the spreading Covid-19 coronavirus.

Just days after insisting both events would go ahead as planned despite the virus’ increasingly broad spread, a travel restriction imposed on people arriving in Qatar from Italy left Dorna, FIM and IRTA no choice but to cancel the MotoGP race.

Italy is subjected to the travel restriction – which states all people arriving from there must be quarantined for 14 days – after becoming a hotspot for the outbreak in recent weeks. To date it has the world’s third highest number of confirmed cases at 1700, including 41 deaths

Hours later the Thai authorities imposed a ban on all large public gatherings in an effort to contain the virus, leading to second round in Buriram to be postponed too. It is understood Dorna is already working to reinstate the event to the late-season slot it held until last year.

The Moto2 and Moto3 classes will race as planned because they are already located in Qatar for pre-season testing but will not compete in Thailand.

The fast-moving situation has raised fears the 2020 MotoGP calendar could be decimated by the ongoing crisis, but Ezpeleta insists ‘there will be a 2020 season’ even if he acknowledges the ‘situation is changing day by day’ and gives no details over what this means for the upcoming events.

The 2020 MotoGP World Championship is now scheduled to begin on April 3-5 at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, USA. However, the United States is another nation with travel restrictions imposed on Italy currently.

Argentina has emphasised its event at the Termas Rio Hondo circuit will definitely go ahead since the nation is yet to confirm any cases of Coronavirus.

Full statement from Carmelo Ezpeleta

“We have been in close contact with the authorities in Qatar to understand exactly what we could do. Then during the weekend, the situation changed a lot. On Saturday and Sunday it wasn’t a specific problem for anyone, but later on Sunday we received indication from the authorities in Qatar that due to the situation in Italy and around the world, everyone of Italian nationality or residents of Italy arriving from there needs to be sure they haven’t been in Italy during the last 14 days.

"In those cases, it’s not that entrance to Qatar is forbidden, but anyone who has been in Italy in the last 14 days is advised that they will be quarantined for 14 days in Qatar. Obviously, that’s not possible for our people, and this was what led us to cancel the MotoGP category at the Grand Prix of Qatar. Because Moto2 and Moto3 have been testing this week in Qatar, it’s possible to continue with the Championship but only with Moto2 and Moto3, as well as the Asia Talent Cup.

“We have been speaking to the authorities in Thailand all weekend and they advised us that early on Monday, Thailand time, there would be a meeting to decide which events can happen in Thailand. It’s not related to Italians or anyone of any other nationality going to Thailand, it’s that they have decided to cancel big events with large numbers of spectators.

“It’s different to the situation with Qatar, so we decided to postpone the Thailand Grand Prix and try to locate a date at the end of the year to make the GP possible.

“There will absolutely be a 2020 MotoGP season. We will try to continue with everything and stay aware of the situation because it’s changing day by day, but our wish is to do all the races in the 2020 season.”