Paris — The Monaco Grand Prix was canceled Thursday because of the coronavirus outbreak and two other Formula One races were postponed.
F1’s showcase race was scheduled for May 24 in the tiny principality on the Mediterranean coast between France and Italy.
Hours after being postponed, along with races in the Netherlands and Spain, it was scrapped for 2020.
A race has been held every year since 1955 on Monaco’s sinewy street circuit, amid a backdrop of yachts, the shimmering blue water of the famed harbor, and clinking Champagne glasses of the rich and famous.
The Automobile Club de Monaco said in a statement Thursday evening that “the situation is no longer tenable” for hosting the race and that it could not be rescheduled.
The Dutch GP was set to return to its re-vamped Zandvoort track outside Amsterdam to host an F1 race on May 3, for the first time since the late Niki Lauda won there in 1985. Spain was set to follow on May 10.
Because of the latest postponements, the F1 season cannot get underway until June 7 at the Azerbaijan GP.
Governing body FIA said the season will begin “as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Formula One and the FIA said they were taking these decisions “in order to ensure the health and safety of the traveling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.”
The season-opening Australian GP in Melbourne was called off only hours before it was due to start last Friday. The Bahrain GP, scheduled to start today without fans, and the inaugural Vietnam GP on April 5 were then quickly called off. The Chinese GP in Shanghai on April 19 was postponed in February.
The mid-season break has been moved from August to March and April and extended from 14 to 21 consecutive days. Teams can choose their 21-day period for ceasing activities. That will allow more flexibility in re-arranging races.
Also Thursday, the FIA, F1 and the 10 teams unanimously agreed to postpone the implementation of rule changes planned for 2021 until 2022. Because of the precarious financial situation, teams will save on costs by using this year’s car chassis in 2021.
Indy 500 in limbo
Roger Penske told the Associated Press no decision has been made yet regarding the Indianapolis 500 in May — an event that draws more than 300,000 spectators annually.
“Lots of moving parts. Working on many options,” Penske said in a text to AP.
Penske, whose company is based in Bloomfield Township, bought Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series in January and has been preparing to host his first Indy 500 on May 24.
The Indy 500 has been held every year since 1946, with postponements only because of weather. Previously, world wars stopped the race.
Last September, a crowd of 100,014 packed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch Richmond trounce Greater Western Sydney to claim the Australian Football League’s premiership flag.
There were no fans there Thursday when the Tigers opened with a 16.9 (105) to 12.9 (81) win over Carlton.
An empty feeling
The AFL, the National Rugby League and soccer’s A-League competitions are all going ahead in Australia despite heavy travel restrictions and bans on crowds.