Grand Prix to have fewer foreign racers than expected

The government now believes that the number of foreign racers competing in this year’s Macau Grand Prix (MGP) will be “much less” than what was originally expected.

Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix in doubt

Addressing Monday’s press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus situation, Sports Bureau (ID) Vice President Christine Lam Lin Kio said that the government now believes that the number of foreign racers competing in this year’s Macau Grand Prix (MGP) will be “much less” than what was originally expected, as some of those who had previously expressed their willingness to come to Macao for the annual motor-racing event this year have changed their mind due to the city’s 14-day quarantine requirement.

Lam said that the Macau Grand Prix Organising Committee (MGPOC) aimed to make a decision by next week on its final arrangements for this year’s MGP.

The Sports Bureau announced last month that the annual Macau Grand Prix will take place without its signature Formula 3 race for the first time in 37 years. The 67th Macau Grand Prix is slated to be held on 19-22 November, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic its programme will be curtailed. Unlike the F3 race, the 54th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix would go ahead, the bureau announced last month.

The Sports Bureau also said last month that foreign racers and their team members would have to present a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming that they have tested negative for COVID-19 before they can board flights to Macao. Upon arrival in Macao, they would immediately be transferred to one of the government’s “quarantine hotels” for their 14 days of quarantine and medical observation, and they would only be allowed to race if they have not been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease during the quarantine period, the Sports Bureau said last month.

The Sports Bureau also said last month that it expected about 200 racers to take part in this year’s Macau Grand Prix, most of them locals and from the mainland, Hong Kong and several Asian countries, while “very few” racers would be from other foreign countries such as European nations and the United States, most of them for the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Foreign nationals without a Macao ID card are currently barred from entering Macau. The local government said last month that it might allow foreign racers to enter Macao so that they could take part in this year’s Macau Grand Prix as their exemption from the entry ban would be in the public interest.

During yesterday’s press conference, Lam said that the Macau Grand Prix Organising Committee had previously contacted the foreign racers who intended to race in this year’s Macau Grand Prix, and all of them said at that time that they were looking forward to coming to Macao for the annual motor-racing event this year and willing to comply with Macao’s 14-day quarantine requirement and other COVID-19 prevention measures.

Lam noted that as the Macau Grand Prix is approaching, the committee has started to discuss with the foreign racers details about the arrangements for them to come to Macao for the races, but more and more of them have told the committee that they have changed their mind due to the Macao government’s 14-day quarantine requirement. Lam said that therefore for the time being the committee believes that there would be a “large difference” between the number of foreign racers who will come to Macao for the upcoming Macau Grand Prix and the originally expected number.

Consequently, Lam said that for the time being the committee does not know the exact total number of teams and racers participating in this year’s Macau Grand Prix. Lam said that the committee now aimed to make a decision by the middle of this month on its final arrangements for the annual motor-racing event this year.

Lam said that the committee would determine later whether the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix can take place during the upcoming Macau Grand Prix. She said that the motorcycle race could only take place if a minimum number of riders compete. Last year, the minimum stood at 22 riders.

Lam underlined that the committee will organise the upcoming Macau Grand Prix in strict adherence with the local government’s COVID-19 prevention measures.

Lam said that despite the fact that a number of foreign racers cannot come to Macao for the race, the government believes that this year’s Macau Grand Prix would still be “attractive” due to the committee’s efforts and residents’ support.

Long history & economic promotion

Lam pointed out that the Macau Grand Prix with a history of over six decades is not only a motor-racing event but also an important event promoting Macao’s tourism and economy. In addition to being a sports event, the Macau Grand Prix is also a major event in Macao, she said.

Lam underlined that as Macao’s COVID-19 situation has stabilised, the government plans to organise a string of sports events, including the Macao Grand Prix, so as to stimulate the local economy.

Macao has not recorded a new COVID-19 case for 101 days, while no local case has been confirmed in 190 days.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Macau Photo Agency