Big news this afternoon as the Bahrain round of the 2020 Formula 1 calendar, announcing there will be no fans in the stands. The participant-only event is a response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement was made on the Bahrain International Circuit’s Facebook Page. This will be the first time in Formula 1 history that fans have not been allowed at the event.
Bahrain is scheduled on March 20-22nd, the second round of the season, following the season kick off this week in Melbourne. Given we think it’s too unsafe to hold the event next month, it’s kind of amazing we’re proceeding with the Melbourne round.
Formula 1 is an interesting sport in light of a global health pandemic. The high profile sports costs hundreds of millions of dollars to run and includes drivers, teams, media and fans from almost every country on earth.
In 2019, the Melbourne GP see 324,100 fans attend the Rolex Australia Grand Prix a new 14-year record. Ticket sales to each round contribute greatly to the revenue of Formula 1 owners Liberty Media Corporate.
Thankfully the last few years has seen streaming access to the sport increase. In Australia, Foxtel and Kayo Sports have partnerships to stream the amazing BBC coverage from the UK team.
At the time of writing, there is 106,165 confirmed cases and 3,594 deaths attributed to Coronavirus. These were from 105 countries / regions which would have a significant cross over with the attendees of the Formula 1.
The Bahrain event is likely not the last round of the season impacted by the spread of Coronavirus and F1 is certainly not the only sporting event impacted.
NBA has also been floating the idea of playing games in stadiums without fans, simply relying on broadcasts to get the action out to the world. There’s already a serious problem with that plan and that’s players like Lebron James saying he straight up won’t play if there are no fans.
We’ll be watching closely to see how drivers and teams respond to this news.