Coronavirus: Bahrain F1 Grand Prix puts ticket sales on hold

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel with a damaged car during the Formula One F1 Bahrain Grand Prix in Bahrain on March 31, 2019. Depending on the outcome, refunds could be offered or more tickets put on sale. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAKHIR (REUTERS) - Bahrain Grand Prix organisers have suspended ticket sales for this month's Formula One race while they assess how many spectators will be allowed to attend in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

A spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit said that, depending on the outcome, refunds could be offered or more tickets put on sale.

"The best way to describe it is we paused ticket sales," he said. "So you now at the moment cannot buy a ticket for the race."

A circuit statement said organisers needed to "ensure appropriate social distancing guidelines".

The spokesman said this meant looking at the capacity and adjusting it accordingly.

"Depending on the final number we get to on capacity... we can either issue new tickets for sale, if that capacity increases, or we would need to refund certain ticket holders," he added.

He would not comment on the possibility that the March 22 race at Sakhir, the second round of the season after next week's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, could be held without spectators.

The Grand Prix reported a record three-day crowd of 97,000 in 2019, with 34,000 on the Sunday.

The race, the first in the Middle East when it joined the calendar in 2004 and now held at night under floodlights, is the Gulf kingdom's biggest global sporting event.

There have been at least 2,476 cases of the virus in the Gulf region, mostly in Iran where 77 people have died, and some major concerts and sporting events have been cancelled or postponed.

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