The F1’s cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix has placed the sport in a precarious position as the sporting world tries to work out next steps.
The F1’s cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix has placed the sport in a precarious position as the sporting world tries to work out next steps.

F1 bungle laid bare as world sport is in chaos

First it was the NBA, and now the rest of the world has reacted strongly, with many sports going on hiatus or going behind closed doors.

Regardless of the move, it will cost the sports hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions and has already cost one sport dearly.

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Formula One was heavily criticised for its handling of the crisis with hundreds of thousands of fans expected to turn out to the event.

It was cancelled on Friday morning, the scheduled start day of the competition with practice one and two expected.

F1 managing director Ross Brawn said the sport was keen to have a big start to the year in Melbourne and called it a "great start to the season".

"It's a positive event here," he told F1.com. "Great race, great fans, wonderful weekend, huge enthusiasm here, we have a big impact on the economy here, and we have an impact on our economy - Formula One has to function, we have to make it work.

"We looked at the whole situation and when we decided to go ahead, it looked a bit different to how it looks like now. I think what's probably surprised everybody is the rapid expansion of this problem."

Fans were not happy about the cancellation.
Fans were not happy about the cancellation.

Asked why it took so long for communication from the F1, Brawn said it came down to consultation with the grid, medical teams and all the issues the sport needed to get through.

But the problem backfired with share prices of Liberty Media, who holes and ownership stake in the sport, taking a big hit.

The Sun reported the sport could be "on the brink of collapsing" after the massive drop in share price, falling from $44.65 on February 13 to $24.13 at the close on February 12 on the Nasdaq.

While F1 is yet to call off the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix, F1 boss Chase Carey said it was a "fluid" situation with plenty still to be worked out.

"I'll use the last five days and you look at how things have changed over the last five days," he said.

"Trying to predict what it is going to look like going forward I think is unrealistic.

"Everybody wants an answer, we'd love to have an answer. I think you can't force an answer right now to something you don't have an answer to."

Should probably get used to sights like this for a while.
Should probably get used to sights like this for a while.

But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who runs one of the three teams who wanted to race in Australia alongside AlphaTauri and Racing Point, said it was "inevitable" that more races would be cancelled.

"That's yet to be confirmed I believe, but it's difficult to see how teams will go to Bahrain," the Red Bull team boss told Motorsport.com. "I think inevitably, there is going to be some discussion about postponement.

"We need to wait to see what the promoter has to say. I'm sure they're getting it from all angles. They're more informed than we are of the situation with the early European races, Vietnam, etc. Inevitably there is going to be a delay."

AUSTRALIAN SPORTS TURN AWAY FANS

The AFL is set to start behind closed doors, while the NRL will shut fans out after round one.

It was prompted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that gatherings of over 500 people will be banned as of Monday.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said he was working with government and the advice was that it was alright for fans.

"If the government had given us advised to close down the stadiums down, we would have done that," he said. "But quite simply in my discussions with government, they are quite open and prepared for games to continue this weekend."

The AFL also revealed on Friday afternoon that round one would continue without fans in the stands.

The NRL will open the North Queensland Stadium but will soon go behind closed doors.
The NRL will open the North Queensland Stadium but will soon go behind closed doors.

The NBL Grand Final series between the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats will also go behind closed doors.

NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman announced the plan.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and follow all protocols as outlined by the relevant authorities. In the event of a player, staff member or official testing positive to coronavirus we will immediately suspend the series," he said.

"I'm proud of our sport and the stance we have taken during this difficult time. We thank our teams, players, staff, officials and fans for their understanding and patience during what is a very challenging time for everybody and we wish both teams the best of the luck for the remainder of the series."

Games in the AFL and AFLW leagues will also be in empty stadiums from Saturday.

Soccer and rugby union are expected to follow suit in moves aimed at curtailing the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus.

Swimming's hierarchy have called off next month's national championships in Perth while Australia's men's cricket team began a one-day international against New Zealand in an empty SCG on Friday.

Cricket Australia also scrapped a national women's tour of South Africa scheduled for next week as paceman Kane Richardson was quarantined from the rest of the men's squad because of a sore throat which medicos were confident wasn't linked to coronavirus.

The FFA called off next month's friendly between the women's national team and the United States in Utah.

The FFA said A-League matches and W-League semi-finals on Friday and over the weekend would go ahead with crowds in a bulletin issued before the government's ban on mass gatherings.

THE SPORTING WORLD SHUTS DOWN
The NBA's suspension has sparked a trend around the world.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement saying the "hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned".

But he also admitted it was up in the air.

When asked about if the season would be cancelled, Silver replied: "Of course it's possible, we just don't know at this point."

 

After the call, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and ATP tour have suspended their seasons.

The NCAA have cancelled all of it winter and spring tournaments, including March Madness.

The ATP Tour has suspended for six weeks with Aussie tennis star John Millman admitting it had been "a wild couple of days" in the US.

It's a mad rush to get out of here now before the whole world shuts down," he told RSN 927's Breakfast Club as he attempts to return to Australia.

"I'm just keen to get out of here before Australia looks to put on its own travel restrictions. I just want to be safe and sound back in Brisbane."

Elite European soccer leagues in France, Spain and the Netherlands suspended all matches.

The English Premier League has called an emergency meeting after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta contracted coronavirus, with the club's entire squad now in quarantine.

In golf, the PGA Tour has cancelled the rest of The Players Championship and shut down other tournaments for the three weeks while the LPGA has postponed three tournaments.

The World Surf League also suspended all events this month.

- with wires



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