We’re in the back half of March, 2021, and the world is shifting around us. As more people get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, advisories and restrictions issued by health officials keep evolving. 2020 saw most major international motorsports events canceled, but organizers are trying to avoid that same fate in 2021.
That’s how you get a proposal like this one in Portugal. The country usually hosts both a MotoGP and a Formula One race every year, each of which draws impressive crowds eager to cheer on their favorites. For 2021, MotoGP is scheduled to touch down in Portimão from April 16 through 18. Meanwhile, the F1 paddock is scheduled to visit the same track just two weeks later, from April 30 through May 2. The Portugal MotoGP round is about a month away as I write this. If you’re a race organizer, how do you plan?
You make proposals to your national health board, advising mitigations you believe are reasonable and prudent to meet the pandemic moment we’re in. The Algarve racetrack proposed that fans be allowed to spectate at both MotoGP and F1 in person for 2021, as long as they take a COVID-19 test.
The costs of COVID testing will be included in each event’s ticket price, according to the proposal before the national health board right now. It’s unclear which type of testing will be used or what the time requirements will be for spectators wanting to visit.
Even if this proposal gets the green light, the plan is still for only 10 percent of spectator capacity to be open for the 2021 MotoGP round. If all goes well, the F1 race two weeks later will allow a slightly larger number of people, but no specific percentages have yet been given.
This comes amid news of Portugal loosening additional COVID-19 restrictions. As of May 17, 2021, Portugal will allow U.K. tourists to visit the country once more, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated. Meanwhile, the lovely and scenic Portuguese island of Madeira announced at the beginning of March that it would waive testing requirements for tourists who prove they’ve been vaccinated, or else have recovered from COVID-19.