Kenya: RWC Closely Monitoring COVID-19 as Safari Rally Preps Continue

opinion

The status of the 2020 the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar in the second quarter remains as scheduled with a decision on Rally Sardinia in Italy expected next week after the expiry of the Italian government's restrictions on sports and other public gatherings on April 4.

Rally Argentina, earlier scheduled for April 20 to 23 around Villa Carlos Paz was postponed to a future date following the government's decision to stop all sporting events and public gatherings in its fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The country is under lockdown until at least March 31.

Argentina had recorded three deaths and 128 confirmed cases this week.

The International Motorsport Federation (FIA) and its commercial arm, the WRC Promoter are monitoring the situation in Italy, Portugal and Kenya in co-operation with individual national sporting authorities while sticking to government directives.

The FIA has cancelled many events Formula One, WRC, WEC, RX and Formula E etc.

FIA President Jean Todt has confirmed that the federation will review all the calendars and try to reschedule some races later this year.

FIA meetings have not been spared by Covid-19 either. The Asia-Pacific Sport Regional Congress, which was to take place in Hanoi early next month, has been suspended.

The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix previously originally slated for April 19 was pushed to a future date while the Motorcycle Grand Prix first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand have been shelved.

No decisions will be made on changes of WRC dates until the expiry of the respective government decrees in Portugal, Italy, and Kenya. However, the WRC Promoter says they are committed to holding as many rallies as possible or reschedule dates like is the case in Argentine.

Italy is on lockdown as the government fights coronavirus. The disease had claimed 6,000 lives in that country. But planning of Rally Sardinia continues despite travel restrictions. The country's Schengen borders have been closed and movement in Sardinia, the host destination of the rally, restricted until the next update of the state of emergency from the Italian government, according to the WRC Promoter.

The WRC Promoter has taken into consideration logistical, environmental and weather conditions in affected countries. The duty of the authorities is to care for all stakeholders including fans, teams, drivers, media, and suppliers.

The WRC Promoter continues to actively monitor the worldwide and individual country situation regarding Covid-19 in co-operation with its event organisers and ASNs. In its report, its says preparations for WRC Portugal through the gravel stages in east and south of Porto, May 21-15 is spot one despite the government's movement restrictions imposed on March 19 for two weeks.

In Kenya, the government imposed travel restrictions for 30 days. However, preparations for the Safari, returning back to the WRC after 18 years absence, are in top gear and the sea freight of the rally kit from Mexico, which hosted the third round of the championship, is expected to be committed on April 3. The Safari will be held on July 16 to 19 in Nairobi and Nakuru.

All necessary medical mitigating factors have been taken into consideration. Only individual discipline will allow human beings to overcome the Covid-19, said Todt in his message to the motoring world. He urged everybody to apply the World Health Organisation safety instructions as the situation is "critical and constantly evolving".

Todt has expressed his support and solidarity to all citizens and those who contribute to motorsport. He has promised to share information in order to help all prepare for future events.

The author is the Media Director at Safari Rally. 

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