A robust health protocols has been put in place to host the MotGP pre-season testing and two Grand Prix races, said Qatar Motor & Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and Losail Circuit Sports Club (LCSC) president Abdulrahman al-Mannai.
MotoGP riders and officials will be present in Qatar for almost the entirety of March, with the Losail International Circuit set to host five days of pre-season testing from March 5 to 12 for the premier class and from March 19 to 21 for Moto2 and Moto3 scheduled.
The 2021 season will then get underway at the Losail International Circuit with the Qatar Grand Prix to be held from March 26 to 28, before the Doha Grand Prix - a recent addition to the calendar – to take place a week later.
At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, QMMF and LCSC president Abdulrahman al-Mannai and Khalid al-Rumaihi, Vice President and General Manager of LCSC, said all preparations were in place to host the MotoGP events safe and successfully.
The LCSC has been coordinating with Ministries of Culture and Sports, Health and Interior and Hamad International Airport round the clock to ensure that the global event is hosted and organised according to the highest standards.
The LCSC is also taking a leaf out of Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s book after the latter hosted the AFC Champions League 2020 matches and the FIFA Club World Cup 2020 successfully, especially with regards to bringing in teams from abroad and applying the health protocol.
Currently, Qatar's Covid-19 travel protocols dictate any arrivals into the country have to serve a minimum six-day quarantine period before being allowed out on the seventh day so long as two negative PCR test results are obtained.
MotoGP's protocol will allow the entire paddock to bypass this quarantine period if they can show a negative Covid-19 test obtained in their origin country. Upon arrival in Qatar, all paddock members will be tested again before being transferred to their hotels while awaiting the results of the second PCR test.
From this point, the bubble protocols - which the paddock operated with to maintain social distancing and stop group mixing last year - will come into effect. Anyone who leaves the country before the first race must undergo the same steps as mentioned above before being allowed into the paddock.
Al-Mannai said the approved preventive health measures include the application of the medical isolation circuit system known as the ‘medical bubble’, in which the movement of all participants, including riders, administrators and organisers, is restricted to hotels and track.
Within the framework of these strict health measures, the ‘paddock’ area will be subject to a strict closure protocol, and riders and officials will also undergo periodic tests to detect those infected with the Coronavirus, in addition to the use of safe transportation, regular sterilisation of the circuit, and the allocation of medical teams in the circuit and hotels throughout the period.
“We are ready to host the pre-season testing and two Grand Prix races at Losail Circuit. We have taken all safety measures to produce the event, which befits Qatar's reputation on the world stage,” al-Mannai said.
“The choice of Doha to host the pre-season testing and two Grand Prix races by FIA (International Motorcycle Federation) and Dorna (commercial rights owners of MotoGP) shows Qatar's global standing and the great confidence it enjoys in the international sports fraternity,” he added.
“Qatar's hosting of the first and second rounds of the MotoGP championships will attract the world's attention for more than a month. This will also economically benefit Qatar as the teams and officials will be in Qatar for one whole month. Qatar’s professionalism in organising events with great success for more than ten years, in addition to the fact that Qatar has made great strides in tackling Covid-19 pandemic means FIA and Dorna was pleased start the new season on Doha,” al-Mannai said.
Meanwhile, LCSC Vice President and General Manager Khalid al-Rumaihi said the Losail Circuit will be limited to 20% with spectators not allowed to enter the paddock. He said the fans need to be seated in the stands and take all necessary measures as advised by the Ministry of Public Health.
“With the pre-season testing staring in just two days, we have completed all the preparations. We are coordinating will the concerned officials and are strictly following the health protocols, which have implemented to conduct the championship safely. Let us assure the whole world once again of our ability to organise according to the highest standards, al-Rumaihi said.
“In addition to the health measures, our technical teams and safety experts are working regularly to check every part of the circuit to ensure the safety of the riders and teams while they participate in the pre-season testing and two Grand Prix,” he added.
The shakedown test kicks proceedings off tomorrow at Losail Circuit with factory test riders and rookies on track, before the other riders then hit the asphalt for five eagerly anticipated days of testing across seven days.
Key 2021 Qatar MotoGP dates:
MotoGP class Shakedown - March 5, 6, 7
MotoGP class Official Test – March 10, 11 and 12
Asia Talent Cup Official Test – March 19 and 20
Grand Prix of Qatar – March 26, 27 and 28
Grand Prix of Doha – April 2, 3 and 4
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2021