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Australian GP called off due to coronavirus fears

The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled on the eve of the first day of practice due to coronavirus concerns, it has been confirmed.

McLaren decided to withdraw from the Grand Prix in Melbourne following the discovery that a team member had contracted the Covid-19 virus.

Mercedes later followed suit in pulling out, telling the FIA and F1 that they could “no longer guarantee the safety of their employees”.

Their statement read: “In light of the force majeure events we are experiencing with regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, we no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event.

“We share the disappointment of the sport’s fans that this race cannot go ahead as planned. However, the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our team members and of the wider F1 community are our absolute priority.”

Following an emergency meeting with team bosses and F1 chiefs, the FIA stated “discussions concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead”.

“The FIA and Formula 1, with the full support of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have therefore taken the decision that all Formula 1 activity for the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled.

“We appreciate this is very disappointing for the thousands of fans due to attend the race and all ticket holders will receive a full refund and a further announcement will be communicated in due course.

The FIA’s decision comes as sporting events across the world are postponed, cancelled or played without spectators, with the number of positive coronavirus cases increasing across Europe and the Far East.

But the latest postponement could cause a potential headache for the FIA in trying to fit both races later in the calendar, with 22 races on the official calendar for the 2020 campaign.

The Chinese Grand Prix, originally scheduled to take place in April in Shanghai, had already been postponed due to the original outbreak in Wuhan.

The second race on the calendar, the Bahrain Grand Prix, is currently set to go ahead but without fans present and the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix could also be affected.

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