SINGAPORE – The Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix has been cancelled for the second year running, announced race organiser Singapore GP, “due to ongoing safety and logistic concerns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
It noted that the “evolving and unpredictable pandemic situation around the world” had made it “increasingly challenging to stage a complex multi-faceted event for tens of thousands of local and overseas spectators”.
The event was slated to take place from Oct 1-3 and would have been the 16th race in the 2021 season’s 23-stop series.
“To cancel the event for a second year is an incredibly difficult decision, but a necessary one in light of the prevailing restrictions for live events in Singapore,” said Colin Syn, deputy chairman of Singapore GP, in a statement on Friday night (June 4).
“We would not be able to deliver a full event experience fans have come to expect over the years, while safeguarding the health and safety of our fans, contractors, volunteers and staff. Ultimately, we have to be responsible, cautious and prudent, as safety is our number one concern.
“We are grateful for the support of Singaporeans, stakeholders and local businesses who have helped contribute to the success of the night race. Needless to say, we look forward to the safe return of Formula 1 racing against the spectacular Marina Bay skyline.”
Ong Ling Lee, director for sports at the Singapore Tourism Board, said: “As the first night street race, it is one of the most iconic races on the Formula 1 calendar. We are working closely with Singapore GP, Formula 1 and other government agencies to determine the future of the race.”
Singapore is currently in a heightened state of alert following a spike in coronavirus cases since April. On May 16, the Government imposed stricter measures such as restricting social gatherings to groups of two, banning dining in eateries and making work from home the default. These will last till June 13.
There is also a 21-day quarantine period for most visitors from overseas.
Several key events such as the June 4-5 Shangri-La Dialogue and the World Economic Forum’s special annual meeting in August have been postponed or cancelled.
Sports events have not been spared.
On May 27, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that the Republic was withdrawing as host of two AFC Cup groups owing to the “erratic” Covid-19 situation in the region.
Mixed martial arts promotion One Championship postponed its May 28 Empower event at the Indoor Stadium, while the June 1-6 Singapore Badminton Open, the final qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics, was canned.
Last year, Singapore GP called the race off, citing reasons such as prohibitions imposed on access and construction of the 5.063km Marina Bay Street Circuit during the two-month circuit breaker, as well as restrictions on mass gatherings.
The event has been a highlight of the country’s tourism calendar since it was first staged in 2008. In 2019, some 268,000 spectators flocked to the Marina Bay Street Circuit over three days, not just for the race action but also to catch the star-studded musical acts which have become a staple of the event.
The race weekend contributes about $130 million annually in tourism receipts, with overseas visitors accounting for 40 per cent of the crowd.
Singapore’s current deal with F1 owners Liberty Media was supposed to end after this year’s race, although it is uncertain how the cancellation of the race will affect the deal.
The Singapore race is the third grand prix to be called off this season following the June 13 Canadian GP and its replacement, the Turkish GP.
According to Canadian media, F1 officials had wanted to bypass the country’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble. But Montreal public health authorities had concluded the risks were too high, even if the event had no spectators.
Istanbul was yanked off the calendar following a rise in Covid-19 cases there.