For the first time in the history of Formula One, a grand prix is set to go ahead behind closed doors.
Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have taken the unprecedented step of banning fans from attending the event due to the global threat posed by coronavirus.
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Bahrain, which is hosting the second round of the F1 season at the Sakhir circuit outside Manama, has reported 83 cases of the virus, mostly linked to people who had travelled to Iran.
"Bahrain has made the decision to hold this year's (race) as a participants-only event," organisers said on Sunday.
"Convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travellers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time," they added.
"To ensure that neither the sport, nor its global supporter base, is unduly impacted, the race weekend itself will still go ahead as a televised event."
The announcement has been met with a mixture of sadness and reluctant acceptance about the threat of coronavirus.
So, the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as planned. But due to Coronavirus, the weekend will take place behind closed-doors!— Aaron Gillard 🏁 (@AaronGillard_17) March 8, 2020
Safety is important matter, but can somewhat feel sad/weird to think they’ll be a race with no fans there #F1 pic.twitter.com/bJ6tOBrEmX
I had my ticket to go for my 8th bahrain Grand Prix but safety is more important , I feel sad but this is needed be done to ensure safety of f1 teams and crews— ali yusuf (@aliyusuf13) March 8, 2020
Going to be odd seeing the stands empty.— Fernando Moutinho (@FernandoM76) March 8, 2020
It’s something I think we’ll see a lot of this year in all sports— Owen Edwards (@o_ensan) March 8, 2020
Bahrain GP will be a participants-only event as the struggle to contain corona continues. First ever no spectator grand prix.— Mark Hughes (@SportmphMark) March 8, 2020
A sport isn't a sport without it's fans. Already a congested season, could they not have just abandoned entirely? The fans lose out especially as it's still taking place without them— Ashley Smith (@AshleySmith_22) March 8, 2020
Bahrain Grand Prix will be held without spectators.— Richard Chambers (@newschambers) March 8, 2020
First 'behind closed doors' race in Formula 1 history. https://t.co/N9cPmeVQg3
Coronavirus wreaking havoc on F1 schedule
Bahrain is the second F1 race casualty of the virus. The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai scheduled for April 19 has already been postponed.
A Bahrain International Circuit spokesman said accredited media would attend as usual.
Bahrain has suspended flights to some destinations over concerns of the rapidly spreading virus. It has also asked people entering the country who have recently visited Italy, South Korea, Egypt and Lebanon to isolate themselves for two weeks.
Maranello, Italy, home of the Ferrari team is within the affected area.
But both Ferrari and Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri, who are based in Faenza, will still race in Bahrain because they will be coming from the Australian GP, which hosts the opening race in Melbourne next weekend.
"Depending on where they flew through on the way from Melbourne, there is a process that you go through," the circuit spokesman said of the Italian teams."
With Yahoo Sport staff