Coronavirus: Austrian GP could be behind closed doors

Austria's vice-chancellor Werner Kogler says the government would not stand in the way of the Austrian GP taking place behind closed doors.

Formula One's truncated coronavirus-hit season will finally get underway with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5

All F1 races scheduled for before the French Grand Prix on June 28 have so far been postponed or cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the Austrian event set to take place on July 5.   -  Getty Images

Austria's government would support the country hosting a Formula One race behind closed doors in July.

All F1 races scheduled for before the French Grand Prix on June 28 have so far been postponed or cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the Austrian event set to take place on July 5.

Austria has become one of the first European nations to gradually begin easing lockdown measures, as countries aim to kick-start their economies following periods of shutdown.

READ | Coronavirus: French Grand Prix decision expected in days

There will be no large gatherings allowed in Austria until at least June 30, while visitors to the country are currently required to self-isolate or to hold specific health documentation.

However, Austria's vice-chancellor Werner Kogler has confirmed the government would not object to the F1 race being held in front of empty stands, if certain requirements are satisfied.

"We don't want to stand in the way," said Kogler in a news conference. "This is a completely different situation than games in a stadium. Several people are affected.

"The minimum distance rules would have to be observed in the same way, of course. But that seems possible.

"Ultimately, the sports federations must decide that for themselves. And that I was also in contact with Helmut Marko, who for his part plays a corresponding role at Red Bull and has acted as a mediator.

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"I told him I would like to honour this, that we will forward all the applicable guidelines to the relevant motorsport associations as a service, so that they can see what is possible or not."

Kogler stressed, though, that even in the event of the race going ahead without fans in attendance, teams would still have to observe the regulations for entering the country.

"Formula 1 is an international convoy in the best sense of the word," added Kogler. "That must then be considered within the framework of the existing restrictions on entry and exit.

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"In principle, I have been told by Formula 1 itself that, from its point of view, this could actually work out. Even if one or the other goes into isolation first.

"But I do not want to interfere in that. I just want to know that the existing regulations are being applied. What is important for us is that the distance regulations must apply.

"And at some point, of course, it will also be a question of the people in this convoy, because tens of thousands are less favourable than thousands, I think, because with every number the probability increases that something will happen anyway."

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