China offered two F1 races this year – Shanghai official

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China has been invited to host two Formula One races in Shanghai this season but no decision has been reached over whether to accept the offer, the head of the Shanghai Sports Bureau has told local media.

The Chinese Grand Prix was supposed to take place at the Shanghai International circuit on April 19 but was postponed until later in the year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Formula One Management (FOM) still hope to run 15-18 races this year and have announced a revised and shortened provisional European schedule set to start in Austria without spectators on July 5.

“FOM asked us if it is possible for Shanghai to hold two races,” Shanghai Administration of Sports director Xu Bin was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.

“We have not made the final decision, depending on the potential changes of the epidemic situation.”

The novel coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has now infected more than eight million people worldwide.

Beijing officials reported 27 new confirmed cases for June 15 on Tuesday, stoking fears of a second wave of the respiratory disease.

China has been cautious about resuming professional sport even as neighbouring South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have restarted soccer and baseball leagues.

The top-flight Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league will resume on Saturday in two central hubs in Qingdao and Dongguan but no fans will be present.

The Chinese Super League (CSL) soccer league, which was scheduled to get underway on Feb. 22, would resume in July “if everything goes well”, Xinhua quoted Xu as saying.

Xu said the administration had been talking to many international sports organisations in recent months about hosting events in China’s financial capital.

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled hours before the opening practice session in March as the virus started to spread around the world.

The Azerbaijan, Singapore and Japan races were cancelled last Friday, joining four races already called off.

Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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