There was a flurry excitement in the MotoGP media after the Chinese round of the F1 series in Shanghai was postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, as the corona virus has been officially named. The excitement concerned the MotoGP race in Thailand, at the Buriram circuit, due to take place on 22nd March. Would the second race of the season be able to go ahead?
The answer to that question is the same now as it was nearly a month ago: yes, the Thai GP in Buriram will go ahead as planned, unless the situation changes, and governments issue official warnings against traveling to Thailand.
Ahead of the Sepang MotoGP test, which took place last week, I contacted IRTA for an official statement on whether the Sepang test and the opening rounds at Qatar and Thailand would be going ahead. IRTA secretary Mike Trimby gave the following statement: "Neither IRTA or Dorna are competent to issue advice on this matter. We are advising the teams and other companies to respect any advice issued by their respective governments. Obviously, we will react to any new developments but currently there are no changes of plan for the first events of the season."
The chances of the Thai round of MotoGP being canceled look very slim at the moment. According to the World Health Organization, there have been 33 cases of the COVID-19 virus recorded in Thailand, as of 13th February 2020, with no fatalities so far. That compares to 29 in Japan, 18 in Malaysia (where the Sepang test was just held), 14 in the United States, 16 in Germany, 3 in Italy, and 2 in Spain. In China, by contrast, there have been 46,550 recorded cases, 1,820 of which were new on 13th February.
So the Buriram round of MotoGP is due to go ahead, unless there is a serious outbreak of COVID-19 in Thailand, the Thai government bans entry to foreign visitors, or governments in Europe (where most of the riders and team members are based) advise against traveling to Thailand.