Due to COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, organizers of the Australian Grand Prix have elected to cancel the event, per a Thursday, March 12 announcement.
The announcement comes in wake of McLaren F1’s decision to pull out of the event after a team employee tested positive for the virus this week.
The FIA and Formula 1 had originally planned to bar spectators from the event but initially elected to continue to hold the race, despite concerns from a handful of drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
The sanctioning body decided to call off the race in respect for the health of drivers, crew members, marshals and hospitality staff.
“We appreciate this is very disappointing news 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,” a Formula 1 release stated.”All parties took into consideration the huge efforts of the AGPC, Motorsport Australia, staff and volunteers to stage the opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 world championship in Melbourne, however concluded that the safety of all members of the Formula 1 family and the wider community, as well as the fairness of the competition take priority.”
The Australian Grand Prix is the second event on the Formula 1 schedule to be canceled, joining the Chinese Grand Prix. The future of other Formula 1 events this season is currently unknown.