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Asia events news: Vietnam GP cancelled, Yokohama Stadium readied for fan attendance trial

Vietnam Grand Prix

The Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation (VGPC) has today (Friday) officially confirmed the cancellation of its maiden Formula 1 race, citing the continued uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

Vietnam was originally due to debut on the 2020 F1 calendar on April 3-5 at a new street circuit developed in Hanoi. However, the Vietnamese Grand Prix’s initial postponement was announced in March as F1 dealt with the fallout from the global pandemic, which has ultimately led to a heavily revised 17-race calendar for 2020.

VGPC said the decision to cancel has been made after “numerous discussions” between itself, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), Formula 1, the Hanoi People’s Committee, and the Vietnamese Motorsports Association (VMA).

Le Ngoc Chi, CEO of the Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation, said: “We are unable to welcome the most exciting and prestigious motorsport series on the planet to Vietnam in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a very difficult decision for all of us to make but ultimately it was the only solution after carefully reviewing all safety criteria as well as the efficiency under current conditions.”

VGPC said it will provide a full refund for all tickets purchased for the 2020 race, but has not commented on plans to reschedule for 2021. Ministry of Health data states that Vietnam has recorded over 1,110 COVID-19 infections, with 35 deaths.

Vietnam last year signed a 10-year race deal with Formula 1 worth a reported $60m (£46.4m/€51.2m) per season – a fee that is said to be accounted for in full by the country’s biggest private conglomerate, VinGroup.

Hanoi authorities had been hoping to reschedule this year’s race to November. However, today’s news means the 2020 calendar will remain at the 17 GP total reached when F1 added a further four races back in August.

Yokohama Stadium fan attendance trial

The Japanese government has announced it will use Yokohama Stadium as a venue to trial measures designed to combat the spread of COVID-19 at events with large numbers of spectators.

The three-day trial will commence on October 30 as the government considers whether to relax current rules due to run through November that limit venues hosting events with more than 10,000 spectators in attendance to 50% capacity.

The 34,000-capacity Yokohama Stadium will be the main venue for baseball and softball events at next year’s rescheduled Olympic Games. The trial will be carried out by the Kanagawa prefectural and Yokohama municipal governments, as well as mobile game developer DeNA, which operates the stadium as a home for its baseball team, Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

“We want to mobilise the most advanced technologies to present a model and create a path toward the success of the Tokyo Olympics,” Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa said, according to the Kyodo news agency, after holding a meeting with DeNA’s founder Tomoko Namba.

Games will be played over the three days, starting with 80% capacity and potentially rising to a full attendance on the final day. Utilising high-precision cameras and beacons, authorities will assess the flow and density of people entering the stadium in various areas, as well as the percentage of spectators wearing masks.

Tokyo 2020, organising committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has yet to make a decision on fan attendance at next year’s events. It told the Reuters news agency: “We see this as a valuable opportunity to gain expertise on COVID-19 countermeasures and are exchanging information with parties involved.”

AFC Champions League

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Qatar Football Association (QFA) have today confirmed Doha as the venue for this year’s AFC Champions League single-leg final, which will be held on December 19.

With the successful conclusion of the AFC Champions League 2020 (West) in Qatar recently, as well as the upcoming preparations to host the East region matches next month, the AFC said the QFA meets all the necessary hosting capability and capacity, and medical infrastructure, to host the final of Asia’s premier club competition.

Qatar last week solidified its position as a hub for the Champions League during COVID-19 by securing a deal to host the remainder of the eastern section of the 2020 edition. The 2020 season of the Champions League was suspended in early March due to the global pandemic but resumed on September 14 as Qatar played host to the finale of the West Zone tournament.

AFC general secretary, Dato’ Windsor John, said today: “The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly made the decision on the venue for this year’s final more complex particularly in these uncertain times of travel and health restrictions.

“In addition to the numerous restrictions, the AFC also wanted to protect the important principle of sporting fair play. This will be, unlike previous years, a one-off final and we therefore needed to ensure that there was no unfair advantage to one team or the other.
“The safety and wellbeing of all participating clubs as well as the protection of all stakeholders has been crucial to the AFC so we must thank the Qatar Football Association and the Qatar Local Authorities and Ministries for putting in place the necessary health measures and effective medical protocols.”

Image: Hanoi Circuit