Road Racing: TT 2020 Cancelled, NW200 postponed
For the first time since 2001 the Isle of Man TT has been cancelled. At the turn of the century it was due to the widespread outbreak of foot and mouth in the UK and Ireland but the recent Covid-19 crisis has now forced the hand of the Manx Government.
In a statement released by race organisers Laurence Skelly, Manx Minister for Enterprise, commented:
“The decision to cancel has not been taken lightly and all options including postponement and delaying the decision have been considered in detail. Representatives from the Isle of Man Government will now discuss the implications with all relevant businesses, stakeholders and individuals affected by this cancellation, which it recognises will be significant.
“With the visitor restriction in place for the foreseeable future we wanted to make the decision now to give businesses, visitors and all involved stakeholders time to manage the impact going forward. The Isle of Man, and the Isle of Man TT, are faced with unique challenges regarding COVID-19 and making this decision will provide certainty to teams, competitors, sponsors and stakeholders of the event and to visitors across the globe. The decision also aims to provide reassurance for our residents and healthcare professionals that the health and well-being of the Isle of Man’s residents is the single biggest priority and focus of this Government.”
On twitter Paul Phillips, the TT development manager, wrote:
“TT 2020 is off and fans around the world are disappointed by this news. But in these unprecedented times, this decision, taken to protect the health of the residents of the IOM, is a decision that is absolutely necessary ahead of any sporting, economic or commercial factor. We are all faced with anxiety and uncertainty at the moment. Some of the people most important to me in this world are considered high risk in relation to the Covid-19 virus and it seems that very few of us will not be impacted by this pandemic in some way or another.In the Isle of Man, Public Health have advised that we continue to follow suggested protocol, including focussing on practicing good hygiene, especially around hand-washing. The TT will return in the future, but for now, motorcycle racing is not the world’s number one priority. It is time to think about the vulnerable in our communities and support them where we can. We need to look after ourselves and each other.”
There had been discussions with teams to move the TT to a later date, the August slot penned for the Classic TT and Manx GP, but this has not been exercised. In Northern Ireland discussions are ongoing with the Health Department to undertsand the best course of action to take but the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee 100 Road Races have already made decisions to in light of Covid-19 to cancel or delay their events. The local races have fallen in step with other major sports in Ireland but while the Northwest 200 has cancelled it’s media launch the race is still going ahead as of today. That being said the news from the Isle of Man is likely to be reverberate strongly with NW200 organisers.
The news follows suit of MotoGP, WorldSBK and almost every major sport to cancel their events but the statement also confirmed that the Manx Grand Prix and Classic TT are still expected to take place in August.
Postscript: On Tuesday it was confirmed by organisers of the Northwest 200 that the 2020 edition of the race has now been postponed. In a statement the organisers said:
“Over the past two weeks we have been in constant contact with government and public health officials, representatives of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, and the sport’s governing body, the MCUI (UC). Our paramount desire is to act responsibly and do all we can to protect everyone from the threat posed by the virus. We enjoy the full support of loyal sponsors and stakeholders in making this decision but apologise for any inconvenience it has caused to them, our competitors, volunteers and race fans.”
It remains to be seen the full extent of the effects of Covid-19 on the sporting landscape but for 2020 the Road Racing calendar has been hit hard.