F1: Belgian GP gets go ahead for Aug. 30, with no fans

BRUSSELS — The Belgian Grand Prix can go ahead at its original August date, but with no fans, local authorities in the Walloon region said Friday.

After Belgium last month banned all mass events in the country until August 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Formula One race scheduled for Aug. 28-30 at the Spa-Francorchamps track was under threat and organizers suspended ticket sales.

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"The Grand-Prix de Belgique can be held behind closed doors, as well as all training sessions," Elio Di Rupo, the president of the French-speaking region, said on Friday.

The announcement came two days after the Belgian government allowed outdoor training at sporting facilities to resume under a coach’s supervision from next week. Di Rupo said the track will reopen for professional practice on May 18.

"However, both authorizations are only valid on the condition that social distancing, hygiene and sanitary measures are strictly observed," he said.

Spa organizers now need to finalize a deal with Formula One Group owner Liberty Media for the race to actually take place.

"We are delighted with this decision, it was the only possible option at that time," Spa GP director general Vanessa Maes told Belgian media RTBF. "But Spa Grand Prix’ priority remains health and safety. We will be particularly attentive to the respect of the health instructions issued by the national safety council."

Meanwhile, Formula One officials and British Grand Prix organizers have agreed in principle for two races to be staged at Silverstone this summer.

Track managing director Stuart Pringle told the BBC that a deal subject to British government approval has been reached for the races to be held immediately after the season begins in Austria.

Formula One is planning to finally start its 2020 season with a doubleheader over two weekends in the naturally isolated environment around the venue for the Austrian Grand Prix. Despite the first 10 races having been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus crisis, the targeted start date is July 5 in Austria. F1 still envisions holding 15 to 18 of the 22 scheduled races.

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