Presence of public at F1 and MotoGP races in Algarve under revision

With rising case numbers on everyone’s minds, DGS health officials have accepted that the presence of the public at the first Algarve Grand Prix, and the MotoGP championship in November, has to be ‘rethought’ (see update below).

At Friday’s press conference DGS health director Graça Freitas said “both questions have to be considered”.

But she gave a glimmer of hope for the thousands who have purchased tickets by saying decisions will be based “according to the region of the country and the incidence of cases”.

Considering the Algarve’s caseload is low (click here), there is the chance that the decision will be to continue to allow both events to take place as planned at the Algarve International Autodrome (AIA).

Indeed, ‘the F1 circus’, as some media outlets have called it, has already started arriving in the Algarve, ahead of the Grand Prix races due to take place next weekend (between October 23-25).

The MotoGP championship is scheduled to run from November 20 to 22.

Tickets for both have been sold on the basis of reduced numbers – to ensure physical distancing. But it could now be that authorities demand ‘even greater space’ between spectators.

Said Graça Freitas: “We are being very cautious, and looking at the epidemiological situation, (to see) whether or not there will be an audience, as well as the reduction (in audience numbers) that will have to exist”.

For now there has been no statement from either the AIA or Portimão council which only recently highlighted the importance of both events for the local economy (click here).

UPDATE SUNDAY:

It’s official: the number of spectators allowed into the F1 event has been slashed from 40,000 to 27,500. How the AIA is to handle this, in terms of ticket reimbursements will be explained on Monday. The event – which was initially seen as a marvellous shot in the arm for the local economy – is now likely to be a shadow of early expectations. AIA CEO Paulo Pinheiro has been telling SIC television news that a number of racing enthusiasts from other countries have had to ‘pull out’ of plans to travel over, due to travel restrictions in place all over Europe. This should mean that Portuguese who purchased tickets will still get their chance to see the Algarve’s first Grand Prix.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com