The long-awaited return of Formula 1 motor racing to China next year is set to be cancelled due to the country's ongoing Covid policies, the BBC has reported.
The report said Formula 1 had decided to cancel the scheduled race in April due to rules that would require staff to undergo stringent quarantines if they contracted Covid during their visit to the country. The rules currently require anyone getting the disease to spend five days at an isolation centre followed by three days in isolation at home.
The BBC said F1 declined to comment on the matter and the race has not yet been officially called off, but the decision was "an inevitability".
F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali previously said the scheduled race was "not certain" to take place.
China last hosted a Grand Prix in 2019. The Shanghai race was included in a provisional calendar for 2023 released in September. The Shanghai race organisers in November last year extended their hosting deal with F1 to 2025. Shanghai first hosted a Grand Prix in 2004.
The BBC reported that F1 is looking to fill the gap left by the Shanghai race by moving the following Grand Prix, in Baku, Azerbaijan, forward by a week.
The cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix would be another blow, although not an unexpected one, to sports industry hopes for China re-opening after the pandemic. Only a handful of international sports events have taken place in the country since the pandemic began, notably the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and several World Table Tennis events.
A cancellation would be particularly disappointing at this time as China's first full-time Formula 1 driver, Zhou Guanyu, is currently taking part in the series and is yet to race in his home country.Additional reporting by Kevin McCullagh