UPDATE: The Australian Formula One Grand Prix gas has officially been cancelled. The announcement came an hour after the Victorian Government said fans would not be allowed to attend if it went ahead.
Reports the Australian Formula One Grand Prix was going to be called off at started circulating early on Friday morning.
The uncertainty followed McLaren’s withdrawal from the event after a team member tested positive for coronavirus.
The BBC was told by two senior F1 sources it would not go ahead on Sunday.
Motorsport.com quoted sources saying a majority of the teams were unhappy to continue after McLaren confirmed in a statement released on Thursday night that the team would not race in the Australian Formula One in Melbourne.
“The majority but not all of the stakeholders are in favour of this option,” a source told the AFP.
The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced just after 9am that fans would not be able to attend the event.
“From a public health point of view, if the event is to be run – I will leave it to Grand Prix officials, the F1 organising body, to make an official announcement,” Andrews told reporters.
“On public health grounds, there will be no spectators at the Grand Prix this weekend – if a race actually happens at all.
“Now (organisers) are making the choice between no event or an event without fans.”
Among the official drinks partners of the event are St Hugo, Heineken, Red Bull, Gordon’s and Laurent Perrier.
This morning, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott issued the following statement:
“The Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Formula 1 have been advised by the Victorian Chief Health Officer of the results of tests relating to eight personnel from the Formula 1® Paddock. Of these eight tests, seven individuals have returned a negative result confirming that they do not have the COVID-19 virus,” Westacott said.
“An eighth individual has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. It has been confirmed that the individual was a member of the McLaren Racing Team. As a result of this, McLaren has announced its withdrawal from the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020.”
“The AGPC is currently in discussions with Formula 1, the FIA and the Department of Health and Human Services in relation to the broader implications of this test result.”
“Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending. This individual is not associated with any Formula 1® team, the FIA or associated suppliers.”
“The AGPC will provide updates as further details become available.”
Dark Mofo cancelled
Earlier this week, Dark Mofo cancelled its 2020 festival in Hobart as a result of ongoing concerns around the impact of coronavirus.
The event was due to be held over June and is the first major Australian music festival to be cancelled due to the risk assessments around coronavirus.
Creative Director Leigh Carmichael said: “After a thorough risk assessment on the potential impact and disruption of coronavirus, we have been left with no option other than to move the current program to 2021.
“The financial exposure faced by David Walsh of a festival-wide last-minute cancellation would run into the millions, and likely end the event permanently. We’ve had to act decisively to ensure Dark Mofo’s long term survival.
“Our current priority is to minimise the implications and cost on our audience, artists, suppliers, sponsors and key stakeholders, and support our staff through a challenging period.”
Among the drinks partners of the event were Moo Brew, Asahi, Jägermeister, Hendricks Gin, Reyka Vodka, Talisker, Willie Smith and Mumm.
At the time of cancellation, Bon Iver was the only performances announced for the multi-week festival, and these sold-out shows will still go ahead.
“We’re killing Dark Mofo for the year,” Walsh said. “I know that will murder an already massacred tourism environment, but I feel like I have no choice.
“Right now, the government and Mona are each on the hook for $2 million to run Dark Mofo. That’s bad. What’s worse, as far as I’m concerned, is that if we ran Dark and nobody came, I’d lose $5 million or more, because I would have to cover the absent ticket revenue.
“Leigh Carmichael, Dark Mofo’s boss, suggested an $8 million scenario: if a staff member contracted COVID-19 a week out from the festival, we’d have to cancel because the staff would need to self-isolate for two weeks, but we’d also have to pay all the artists. That kind of blowout would affect Mona’s program, and I’d be back to subsisting on the diet I had when I was eighteen – pineapples and mint slice biscuits.
“It’s likely that nothing will happen. June will roll up, COVID-19 will die down, and I’ll look (more) like a fool for having cancelled. But that’s the best thing that could happen. The worst thing that could happen is not me trashing my cash. We could soldier on, without consideration or advantage, have the crowd turn up anyway, and send them home sick. But that wouldn’t be the worst thing, either. Worse than that, for me at least, would be proceeding with Dark Mofo and having it fail, and thus having it become the final Dark Mofo. That would mean facing a future of Hobart winters unpunctuated by pageantry, and thus returning to a tyranny of complacency – that worse-than-COVID Hobart malaise of believing we don’t have to seek to do more, and we don’t have to seek to do better.
“So we’ll see you next year. Assuming, that is, another black swan doesn’t cause another white elephant.”
Entertainers are also cancelling or cutting tours short. The Pixies were scheduled to play at Sydney Opera House this weekend but have pulled out, while Miley Cyrus announced she would not be performing at a bushfires charity relief concert in Melbourne on Friday.
Bluesfest to go ahead
The organisers of Bluesfest have made the decision to go ahead with the event next month.
Bluesfest is scheduled for April 9- 13, 2020.
“Both NSW Health and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the federal body, both report that attending public events such as Bluesfest are low risk,” the organisers said.
“We want to assure you that we are currently implementing the recommended extra safety measures and additional facilities in order to consider the general health and safety of patrons, artists and staff at the event.
“Bluesfest will be supplying additional hand sanitisation facilities at our toilets and throughout the festival site.
“If you’ve already purchased a ticket for Bluesfest, your ticket purchase is fully insured in case of cancellation due to this pandemic.
“Thank you for your continued support and looking forward to seeing you all here in Byron Bay this Easter!”