Sometime Pacific Formula 1 Grand Prix host Okayama was due to hold the 2020 curtain-raiser on April 11-12, with series organiser GTA having expressed confidence that the race would be able to go ahead on schedule in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, following discussions at last weekend’s Okayama pre-season test – which was closed to spectators in a bid to limit the spread of the virus – it was announced on Wednesday morning that the first race of the season would have to be delayed after all.
A new date for the event will be communicated in due course.
The Okayama test took place during a weekend when almost all other motorsport series, including Formula 1, IndyCar and NASCAR, were forced into cancelling events as the coronavirus crisis continued to deepen around the world.
Although more than 850 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Japan, the figure is not rising as quickly as it is in other countries, notably in Europe, where there are now upwards of 75,000 cases across the continent and more than 30,000 in Italy alone.
The Japanese government has not yet adopted any of the more radical measures seen elsewhere, having so far only requested schools to close and major sporting and cultural events to be cancelled, postponed or scaled down.
Super Formula's Fuji race in question
With the GTA electing to postpone the SUPER GT opener, it seems likely that Super Formula will also choose to delay what is currently set to be its first race at Fuji on April 18-19.
Super Formula had already postponed its planned season opener at Suzuka, due to take place on April 4-5, as well as the opening pre-season test at the same track.
Further news of the series’ plans is expected this week, but it has been announced the two-day Fuji pre-season test will go ahead starting next Tuesday, albeit behind closed doors.
Likewise, next week's SUPER GT test at the same venue will also run as per schedule, but again without any spectators.