VIENNA (Reuters) – The Austrian government is not opposed to this year’s Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring taking place without spectators, Sports Minister and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said on Wednesday.
The first nine rounds of the Formula One season — up to and including the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 — have been called off due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
That leaves the Austrian race at Spielberg on July 5 as the second still on the schedule after the French Grand Prix on June 28.
“We don’t want to get in the way,” Kogler told reporters when asked if the government would allow the race to take place.
However, he said it was different to staging a football match without fans because of the number of technical staff involved.
The 10 Formula One teams each have around 60 people in the paddock on race weekends while Formula One staff, plus technical and safety officials as well as media and broadcast personnel, would bring the total attending the race to more than 1,000.
The number would increase further if the usual support races, such as Formula Two, are also run.
Kogler added that travel restrictions could be a bigger hurdle than social distancing rules.
“This must then be considered within the framework of the existing restrictions on entry and exit (into the country),” he said. “I don’t want to anticipate if an exemption will be needed here or there.”
(Writing by Brian Homewood; additional reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris)