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2020 South India Rally to go ahead despite Coronavirus threat

Unnatee Gidithuri

As nations around the world start taking some drastic measures to control the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the situation has cast some doubt on whether a number of sporting events in India will go ahead. However, organisers of the upcoming South India Rally have confirmed that the event will, in fact, be held as per schedule, albeit with some important pre-emptive measures in place.

Slated to be held on March 20-22, 2020, the 2020 South India Rally will serve as the inaugural round for both, the 2020 Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) and the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). While the event – organised by the Madras Motor Sports Club – will go ahead, no spectators will be allowed in the rally HQ areas and a gathering of people in a single place will not be permitted either.

A statement released by Vicky Chandhok, the event’s chairman and president of the APRC, states that the rally will strictly comply with medical and travel advisories issued by the Indian government. “To reiterate, next week’s South India Rally is very much on, as per schedule. We are closely monitoring the situation arising out of the COVID-19 spread globally, and taking due precautions as per the directives of Union Health ministry,” Chandhok said.

“As Chairman of the event, it is my duty to stay in close contact with our team and medical advisors which is what we are doing,” he went on to say. “No spectators will be allowed into the Rally HQ areas and no gathering of people in a single place will be permitted. We have also communicated to all the participants, officials and stakeholders, urging them to take all precautions to stay safe and healthy.”

Additionally, the APRC segment of the rally will be exclusively for Indian nationals who have registered for the INRC. “Consequent to Government of India’s travel advisory prohibiting entry of foreign Nationals into India until April 15, and other factors, the APRC round here will be contested by Indian crews who thus will have an opportunity to win a FIA international trophy,” Chandhok added.

Coronavirus-related complications have already resulted in the cancellation of a number of high profile events around the world, including Formula 1’s 2020 season-opening Australian GP. In India, growing concerns about the threat posed by the virus have resulted in the Sports Ministry issuing an advisory that urges all national sports federations to follow the Health Ministry’s advisory and avoid large gatherings at sports events.