The MotoGP scheduled for October in Buriram may be postponed for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus resurgence in Thailand.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said the ministry and Dorna Sports, the commercial rights holder, will soon make a decision on whether to postpone the race until next year to reduce the risk of infection.
There are concerns among foreign racers as Thailand still has a high number of new cases, he said.
The MotoGP race at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram was first postponed during the March 2020 outbreak. Last July, the cabinet approved the license renewal, allowing Thailand to host the event for five years from 2021 to 2025.
Minister Phiphat said MotoGP races in other countries had also been cancelled, although some continued without an audience during the pandemic. “The country will lose opportunities if we have to organize the races in October without sports fans,” he said. “If there is a choice between holding the race without spectators or postponing it, we prefer to postpone the race.”
Buriram is one of 10 areas to reopen as the country plans to welcome vaccinated tourists back to pilot destinations this year. The northeastern province was only accepted because of the MotoGP meeting, which was expected to attract many fans.
As of July 13, 21.1% or 333,895 people in the province had been vaccinated, with 225,570 receiving the first vaccination, while 108,325 residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the Buri Ram Provincial Health Department. The ministry reported that the October 4-6, 2019 event added 3.13 billion baht to the local economy and created 5,466 jobs during the celebrations.
The three-day event set a record of 226,655 sports fans, up from 222,535 in 2018, of which 167,130 or 73.7% were Thais. The average length of stay of the fans was 2.27 days. The remaining 59,525 fans or 26.3% were foreigners from 41 countries, an increase of 52.8% compared to the previous year, with an average length of stay of 5.97 days.
Most viewers came from Australia, Germany, China, the UK and Japan, with 63% of foreigners visiting the province for the first time.
The organizing budget for the 2019 MotoGP event was 832 million baht, of which 375 million, or 45%, came from the government, including the MotoGP license and infrastructure.
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