Montreal’s public health authorities are “categorically opposed” to the race taking place, according to reports
By Yuri Coghe
The 2021 edition of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, scheduled for June 13, is at risk of being cancelled for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 concerns.
The race has been in the spotlight since Saturday, when Quebec publication LaPresse said F1 would demand a $6 million compensation if the race is held without spectators. Overseas specialized publication Autosport said Turkey was on stand-by to take over the calendar slot as the Canadian Grand Prix looks set to be cancelled.
Despite reports, however, the race remains in the F1 calendar as the series has yet to weigh in on the issue.
“What we want is for public health departments to communicate together before we make anything official. It’s the least we can do, out of respect for the various partners,” Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said to the Canadian Press on Thursday. “I can’t confirm it because we were also waiting on a decision from the Government of Canada and public health.”
A Thursday report by Radio-Canada said the event had been cancelled, with only the official confirmation by Formula 1 still pending. The story was updated a few hours later, however, limiting the news to the city’s public health authorities being ‘categorically opposed’ to the race taking place.
They are worried about the interactions between the 2.500 participants expected to attend the event and locals, such as volunteers and staff. In addition, there won’t be enough time for these participants to respect the quarantine rules currently in place in Montreal, since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku is scheduled for just a week before the Canadian race, on June 6.
“It’s pretty soon. The teams would arrive in less than seven weeks, so the population wouldn’t be vaccinated, and we will still be in mitigation mode for the variants,” said Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal’s public health director, to CBC News.
CBC also reported that Quebec public health authorities believe the race can still happen if its held with no audience and safety guidelines are respected.
F1 has asked the Canadian government for quarantine exemptions as they plan to rely on private medical staff for all COVID-19 related measures. Ottawa is yet to respond. Using private and isolated flights and hotel accommodations or holding the event under tight bubble restrictions are among the options considered by the series, according to Autosport.
The Canadian Grand Prix is confirmed to be part of the F1 calendar until 2029. The race takes place in Montreal since 1978, only not being held in 1987, 2009 and 2020.
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