COVID-19 | MXGP Races Postponed, Supercross Rounds In Question
The COVID-19/Coronavirus issue has brought instant and massive issues to events around the world, so it would be naive to think that motocross racing wouldn’t feel some sort of impact. While we wait to see what will happen in the United States and the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series continues on as planned until further notice, event organizers InFront Moto Racing have already been forced to the 2020 MXGP of Trentino-Italy and the 2020 MXGP of Argentina rounds of the 2020 Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship to later dates.
The Italy race was the first to fall due to the country’s outbreak and preventive measures that have restricted unnecessary travel and public gatherings, which has increased from certain regions at the start to a recently announced advisory that applies to activity in the entire country. The initial advisory was set to expire just days before rigs rolled into the paddock, but a spike in cases that made Italy one of the most impacted countries with the virus created the current lockdown. With no one coming in and no one going out (Italy is HQ to multiple racers and teams including Team HRC, the DeCarli wing of Red Bull KTM, Antonio Cairoli, Jorge Prado), their absence would have a massive impact on the paddock. InFront Moto Racing was able to get through the first two rounds of the series, the MXGP of Great Britain and the MXGP of The Netherlands, but concerns hung overhead the entire time and the announcement for the Italian postponement was made during the weekend at Valkenswaard. The race is now scheduled to take place on July 18-19, barring any further issues.
Changes to the Argentina race came immediately after. With 17 cases of the virus now reported in the South American country by Monday and talk of growing travel restrictions, the event organizers acted swiftly, announced on Tuesday afternoon the race would be postponed, and confirmed the new date by Wednesday morning (that the disease had spread almost as far away from ground zero in Wuhan, China, as possible shows how all parts of the world will have to confront the issues). The key detail to the new dates is that it is for November 21-22, which is by far the latest Grand Prix of recent memory. This also means that the race will take place after the Motocross of Nations, which is slated to run in France on September 26-27.
Anyone that has followed the MXGP series over the last few years knows that running changes to the calendar are common, largely due to the ambitious endeavor to bring motocross to developing regions in Asia and the Middle East, or because of sudden shifts in facilities through Europe. Massive travel adjustments are something those that work the series are used to, so often times they know what rounds are in jeopardy well ahead of time while the InFront Moto Racing’s in-house logistics unit freight the essentials for every race team. But this issue is much different than a non-existent venue or a lack of funding that the organizers can see coming; instead, they are at the complete mercy of the governments that create restrictions to quell the virus, which has been practically impossible to predict.
As for the Monster Energy Supercross Series in the US, we are still waiting to hear about any issues or changes. Right now, the two biggest rounds in question are Seattle and Foxborough, which are about a month away. The state of Washington is one of the hardest hit in the US and on Wednesday morning the Associated Press released a story that said bans on public gatherings larger than 250 people are likely to be announced. CenturyLink Field plays a big part in this entire issue, too, because an employee of the venue has tested positive for the virus last week. The venue is in part managed by the Washington State Public Stadium Authority, which means it is directly impacted by any decision made by the state government. Boston, meanwhile, is the latest major city to see a surge in cases and on Wednesday, it was reported that a meeting for a biotech company was partly the reason for the spread. Massachusetts has already declared a state of emergency for the matter but has not yet gone on to include a restriction on major events. We will have a larger write-up on what the COVID-19 virus could mean for Supercross, especially as we enter the final rounds of the season and get ready for the summer’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
The next three days will be an important time for MXGP and Supercross because an increase of cases in other countries could cause the MXGP calendar to shift while the continued spread in the US could force the state and the federal government to draw up more demanding measures.