Sports

China’s Formula 1 Grand Prix hangs in balance over virus fears

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SHANGHAI: The fate of the Chinese Grand Prix is expected to be announced on Thursday (Feb 13) as reports said it will not take place as planned on Apr 19 because of the new coronavirus.

Several British media outlets ran unsourced reports on Wednesday saying the Shanghai race, the fourth of the new season, will be either postponed or cancelled.

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It would be the latest – but easily most high-profile – sports event to fall victim to the virus outbreak which has killed more than 1,100 people in China, where it emerged at the end of last year.

AFP understands that an announcement about the race will be made on Thursday, but according to the BBC, it is "expected to be postponed".

It also throws into doubt the inaugural race in Vietnam, which takes place two weeks before Shanghai but where there have also been cases of the virus, officially named COVID-19.

READ: New coronavirus cases lowest since Jan but experts disagree over peak

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READ: China reports 97 new deaths from coronavirus, bringing toll to more than 1,100

Formula One's managing director Ross Brawn said last week that they will look to reschedule the Shanghai race if it does not go ahead in April.

"We will leave open the opportunity to see if the race can run later in the year," he said, according to the BBC.

"China is an enthusiastic, growing market so we'd like to have a race in China."

China has been forced to cancel or put off a host of sporting events due to the coronavirus epidemic, from suspending all football in the country to postponing the first badminton tournament of the 2020 world tour season.

The world's most populous country has increasingly become a powerhouse in hosting international sport in recent years, but has had its sporting calendar thrown into chaos.

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