Corona Virus: MotoGP Class Canceled At Qatar, Moto2 And Moto3 To Go Ahead As Normal

The COVID-19 outbreak, or corono virus as it is more commonly known, has finally had an impact on MotoGP. Today, the FIM and Dorna announced that the MotoGP race at Qatar has been canceled, while the Moto2 and Moto3 races are due to go ahead. The cancellation is due to restrictions imposed by Qatar on travelers coming from Italy and Japan. With so many members of the paddock - riders, engineers, mechanics, journalists, and other team staff - from those two countries, it would have been almost impossible for MotoGP to race there.

At first sight, this seems an odd decision. Why would only the MotoGP race be canceled, instead of all three classes? The reason is simple: the Moto2 and Moto3 classes are already in Qatar for their final preseason test, which completed today. The issue with Qatar is not fear of contagion, but restrictions on travel from Italy and Japan. Almost the entire Moto2 and Moto3 grid, plus most team members, are already in Qatar, and nobody was planning to return to Europe between the test and the race. There are no insurmountable obstacles to holding the Moto2 and Moto3 races at the Losail International Circuit.

But this is likely to be just a foretaste of what is to come. If Qatar is canceled, then the next race, at Buriram in Thailand, could pose a problem. There are currently no travel restrictions in place entering Thailand, but this could change quickly. There is also the small matter of packing up the MotoGP bikes, which are all currently sitting ready to race in Qatar, and shipping them to Thailand. Several Japanese and Italian engineers stayed on between the test and the race, as there was some fear that travel restrictions could be imposed, but there could be teams with no one to pack their stuff up for them.

Dorna could choose to postpone Thailand until September - there are already reports that this is likely - which would mean the season starts for MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on April 5th.

Even this could be problematic: the US has just raised the travel warning level for Italy, advising against all but non-essential travel. It is not unthinkable that the US government decides to impose similar travel restrictions on visitors from Italy and Japan.

Underlying all of these assumptions is the basic problem that the extent of the epidemic is still unknown, nor how far it will spread. The fate of MotoGP, and indeed, all sporting and mass-entertainment events, will be dictated by the spread of the disease, and decisions by governments and international authorities on how to handle it. Until then, we wait.

The official announcement appears below, and below that, a press release from Suzuki:

MotoGP™ Class cancelled at the Grand Prix of Qatar

Due to Qatar travel restrictions brought into force affecting passengers from Italy (amongst other countries), the premier class will not race at Losail

Sunday, 01 March 2020

FIM, IRTA and Dorna regret to announce the cancellation of all MotoGP™ class sessions at the Grand Prix of Qatar, including the race.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has resulted in Qatar travel restrictions being brought into force that affect passengers from Italy, amongst other countries. As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past 2 weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP™ class - both on track and off - and therefore the decision has been taken to cancel premier class competition.

As the teams and riders of the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes were already in Qatar for the three-day official test at Losail International Circuit earlier this week, the races of both categories will be possible. The lightweight and intermediate classes will therefore compete in their season opener from the 6th to 8th March. The same will apply to the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, which will have two races during the Qatar Grand Prix as originally planned. Stay tuned for a revised schedule.


Team Suzuki Press Office – March 1.

The FIM, IRTA, and Dorna Sports have this evening announced that the 2020 Qatar Grand Prix will not be held for the MotoGP class due to growing concerns and strict travel restrictions enforced due to the Coronavirus Covid-19.

The Moto2 and Moto3 classes will race as the riders are already present in Qatar following testing at Losail International Circuit.

Team Suzuki Ecstar are naturally disappointed not to race but agree with the decision which was not taken lightly by the officials.

Davide Brivio - Team Manager:

“Obviously It’s a big shame to have to cancel this first race of the season, as we were all really ready to start, and so were the MotoGP fans. Some of our team staff stayed in Qatar following the test days, as we were aware of the seriousness of the outbreak. But at this time the most important thing is the safety of the people, and we have to respect the decision made by the local authorities and by the MotoGP officials. It’s a delicate and strange time for everyone around the world and we need to take things race-by-race at the moment and see what develops in the coming weeks. I’d like to wish good luck to those riding in Moto2 and Moto3 next weekend, and I hope we can be back on the track soon.”

Back to top


Oh no! We have been waiting so long for the first MotoGp race of 2020. We are going to have to wait somewhat longer, damn it!

Hoping for two good races in Moto2 & Moto3.

Maybe they will broadcast the Asia talent cup races, that would be cool.

Seasonal Flu kills about 0.1% of infectees, but usually infects several hundred million people annually. Depending on who you ask Covid-19 kills 1.5% to 2% of infectees, as high as 10% in victims with existing health problems. That makes it less deadly than it's close relative SARS, but roughly level with the 1918 epidemic (Spanish Flu) that killed around 40 million people in two years.

Even at the most optimistic estimate Covid-19 is vastly more dangerous than Seasonal Flu, which is also going through it's annual cycle of infection (25 million recorded cases in the US this winter and counting). It's entirely sensible for countries to be making every effort possible to prevent or slow the spread of Covid-19. Even if it's spread can't be stopped entirely a slow rise in cases is preferrable to a pandemic.

Thanks J N H for clarifying the issue of lethality - I understand CV to be 20 times more fatal than flu amongst the infected population - which explains the extent of the reaction. From Bregazane's reaction i am guessing he in OZ? If so I can confirm that it was truly a nightmarish summer here and that looking forward to Qatar had become a beacon of looking forward to something positive for many of us. I guess though we can gloat about the fact that Phillip Island has just given us the most positive WSBK start, in pretty much forever. But, I must sadly observe, that as WSBK was due in Qatar on March 13, it's bit difficult to look in that direction with more expectation than hope. 

I think it's important to remember that 'Spanish Flu'  ( so named because Spain was a country not subject to wartime censorship and openly reported the outbreak making many think it was the source ) occured at the end of WW1 when most of Europe , especially Germany , were suffering the consequences of food shortages , malnutricion with wide spread poor health and living conditions . Making the general public much more vulnerable than might be the case today .

... the risk is that health systems become overwhelmed with an increased risk of mortality from otherwise treatable conditions. For instance the prognosis for a stroke victim is often quite good provided the paramedics get to you quickly, you get seen fast in the emergency dept and so on. But not so good if there are 20 ambulances queued up at the doors because there's no space to put patients into, because the wards are full of fragile people with flu.

This one looks pretty dangerous

Estimated numbers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( say from Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 22, 2020 there have been 32 - 45 million flu cases, 14 - 21 million medical visits, 310,000 - 560,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 - 46,000 flu deaths. This is in the U.S. alone. WHO states every year there are an estimated 1 billion cases, 3-5 million severe cases, and 290 000-650 000 influenza-related respiratory deaths worldwide.

The Wikipedia entry states that from Jan. 1918 - Dec. 1920 the Spanish Flu infected 27% of the worldwide population of 1.9 billion. That's over 500 million people. There were estimates of 40-50 million even possibly 100 million deaths (8-20%). Spanish Flu infected people on isolated Pacific islands and in the Artic (weird). 

Current live update for corona virus here:

Currently the U.S. has the highest obesity rate of any country in the world. It's debatable as to whether people were in poorer health 100 years ago due to starvation or today due to gluttony and a lack of exercise.

Bruce Aylward, World Health Organization Joint Mission to China:

"I think the key learning from China is speed — it’s all about the speed. The faster you can find the cases, isolate the cases, and track their close contacts, the more successful you’re going to be. [...]

People keep saying [the cases are the] tip of the iceberg. But we couldn’t find that. We found there’s a lot of people who are cases, a lot of close contacts — but not a lot of asymptomatic circulation of this virus in the bigger population. And that’s different from flu. [...]

China got patients in treatment early and have highly sophisticated health care treatment procedures. They are really good at keeping people alive with this disease. They have a survival rate (with a mortality rate of just under 1% outside of Hubei province) for this disease I would not extrapolate to the rest of the world. What you’ve seen in Italy and Iran is that a lot of people are dying.

Panic and hysteria are not appropriate. This is a disease that is in the cases and their close contacts. It’s not a hidden enemy lurking behind bushes. Get organized, get educated, and get working."

Source: Vox Interview

Is there any truth to the rumours that covid-19 was developed by a motogp blogger as a devious means of circumventing Dornas ever exapanding number of races?  :D

After a shit summer I was really looking forward to the racing kicking off, but I guess it'll make us appreciate Moto2 and 3 all the more.  Lets hope they find a way to get the other rounds happening more smoothly, but the next few rounds are going to be a big challenge.

At a minimum Marc's shoulder just got another 2 weeks of recovery time, perhaps longer. bright side...if there is no racing or testing up to COTA...then MM93 will for once not be favored to win COTA!  Honda haven't ridden whatever their Frankenstein bike will be and MM93 will not have ridden a race distance on a MotoGP bike, which is impossible to simulate in training. That race, which otherwise could be a real snoozer for the win, could be wide open now!

The weekend after is the second WSBK race, also at Qatar, so also likely in danger. Shame, the racing at PI was fantastic.

More of this seems likely, maybe the teams need to get all their critical staff out of italy and japan 2 weeks before the next race?  Seems like it could work, assuming more countries aren't added to the band list, and large public gatherings don't get cancelled altogether.

Thailand government has just cancelled their GP 

Thanks Peter6. Thanks to your early notice, at least now I can plan to try to do something else for the next three weekends. I am not really religiously inclined but I am beginning to pray we get on top of the MFINGVIRUS before it hurts or kills any or many more people. This thing is a real test of decent systems over politics and PR - watch the authoritarian regimes fail that test.

What about all the Dorna staff who aren't there for a test but will need to be in place for the actual racing? Safety crews, timing and scoring, medical, TV crews? How many come from Italy and Japan?

Almost all Dorna staff live in or near Barcelona, and most are Spanish. FIM safety officer Franco Uncini will be absent from Qatar, but his duties will be performed by a deputy