Formula 1 is close to officially announcing the cancellation of the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix. The event was scheduled for mid-April, but as a result of China’s ongoing zero-Covid policy it will most likely be cancelled for a fourth season in a row.
Two years ago as the Covid pandemic was expanding worldwide, the Shanghai race became the first event to be removed from the 2020 Formula One calendar. The same went for last year and this season, as the Chinese Grand Prix was not even included on the first draft of the provisional calendar.
During the last year, most of the world’s countries lifted their restrictions and opened their borders, but China has remained in effect with the country putting into place a ‘zero-Covid’ policy. The controversial strategy – that has the goal of eradicating outbreaks – has led to millions being locked down and citizens who have tested positive for the virus forcibly quarantined. In Beijing, officials are currently implementing a lockdown in the Haidian and Chaoyang districts, with shops, schools and restaurants closed. At the same time, those travelling to the capital have to do tests for the first three days of their visit, and remain inside until they are given the all-clear.
The situation was closely monitored by Formula 1, as chief executive officer Stefano Domenicali confirmed a few weeks ago that the Covid situation in China “remains an issue and it is not certain we will race there in 2023. But we continue to monitor the situation and will keep everyone updated.” – he explained.
Several media outlets have now confirmed that an official decision is expected to be announced soon. As reported by BBC Sport, Formula 1 will cancel April’s Chinese Grand Prix due to the fact that Formula 1 staff “would not be given exemptions from quarantine requirements in the event of suffering a Covid-19 infection.”
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This means that any team member who fell ill during the race weekend would be detained in the country with China’s rules currently stating it is a five-day isolation period in a specialised centre followed by three days at home.
The decision, according to the BBC, is “an inevitability”.
As the Shanghai event will not take place in 2023, Formula One is currently evaluating other options to replace the race, despite the fact that even 23 GPs would still represent a new record for the sport. Stefano Domenicali has also held discussions with the organisers of the Baku Grand Prix about the possibility of moving the race forward by seven days.
The Chinese Grand Prix signed a new contract with Formula 1 in 2021, with the current agreement being available until 2025.