A few days ago it was officially confirmed that the 2021 Japanese Grand Prix will not be able to take place as initially scheduled, making it the second consecutive year in which the Suzuka race will be lost due to the ongoing health pandemic. We now have details regarding the process which was behind the decision to cancel the event and the main reason seems to be an issue with the entry visas, according to Suzuka chief Kaoru Tanaka.
As a result, Formula 1 now faces the difficult task of trying to fill two blank slots if they want to continue with the aim of completing a 23-race calendar in 2021, October 10 now being free as well as November 21 given the fact that the Australian Grand Prix was previously called off.
Despite the Olympic Games recently having taken place in Tokyo behind closed doors, and the Paralympics about to get under way, the reason for the cancellation of the grand prix was an administrative one regarding entry into Japan, said Tanaka.
“We were very much looking forward to this year as it was the last run for Honda and the triumphant return for Yuki Tsunoda” – explained Kaoru Tanaka, the president of Mobilityland which operates the Suzuka circuit on behalf of owners Honda, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It was such a special year and we are disappointed we cannot hold the race for the second consecutive year. The main problem is that the entry of the people involved cannot be confirmed. Japan basically doesn’t allow foreigners to enter the country at the moment, whether it’s Formula 1 or any other sport. If a foreigner wants to come here, they have to get an entry visa. The fact we couldn’t get this fixed was a problem.” – he explained.
Kaoru Tanaka did not explain why thousands of athletes and support staff was able to enter the country and take part in the Olympics and Paralympics but this was not possible for a significant smaller number which would have been needed for the Formula 1 event:
“I know each sport has its own characteristics and conditions but in general, and for me personally, it is a shame the F1 Japanese Grand Prix cannot be held. I think the Japan Sports Agency understood this. Apart from the Olympics, I think around 1,500 is the highest number of foreigners entering the country under the current circumstances. So I think they understood, but they had to be cautious. In terms of the public interest and the culture of motorsport, it is not as mature as in Europe.” – he added.
One positive aspect is the fact that Suzuka’s deal to host the Japanese Grand Prix has been extended until the 2024 seasob, as the next year will mark the track’s 60th anniversary: “From this moment on, we will be preparing for next year.” – the president of Mobilityland which operates the Suzuka circuit concluded.