Vietnam F1 Grand Prix gets go-ahead despite coronavirus fears

Race will be held as 'scheduled' on April 5, chief executive says

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 14, 2020, workers set up a kerb on the track at the under-construction Formula One Vietnam Grand Prix race track site in Hanoi, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Vietnam's inaugural F1 Grand Prix will take place in Hanoi as planned, organisers told AFP on February 18, bucking a trend of cancellations as fears over the COVID-19 coronavirus rip up Asia's sporting calendar. / AFP / Manan VATSYAYANA
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The inaugural Vietnam Formula One Grand Prix will go ahead in April as planned, according to a report, avoiding the fate of the Chinese Grand Prix which was postponed.

The race will be held as "scheduled" on April 5, Le Ngoc Chi, chief executive of Vietnam Grand Prix told AFP Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the FIA, motorsport's world governing body, and Formula One, said that the Chinese Grand Prix, originally slated to be held in Shanghai on April 19, would be postponed due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

The virus has infected more than 72,000 people around the world and killed more than 1,800.

It has wreaked havoc with Asia's sporting calendar, forcing the postponement of top events including the Chinese GP, Hong Kong Sevens rugby and Asian Champions League football matches.

As countries struggle to contain the threat and spread of the virus, Vietnamese authorities said the country's inaugural Formula One race would go ahead on schedule.

"The time for the ... F1 race will not be postponed or delayed," Tran Trung Hieu, deputy director of Hanoi's tourism department was quoted as saying by state media.

"Although this is a sports event, it has a very huge impact on Vietnam and Hanoi's tourism," he said, adding all measures will be taken to ensure the "safety of the event".

AFP reporters saw workers erecting stands at the racetrack as construction continued this week.

The communist country will get its first taste of the glitz and glamour of Formula One, while the sport attempts to reach new markets in Southeast Asia.

Hanoi has invested heavily in staging an F1 race - with 22 grands prix originally slated for this year before the postponement of China's race - signing a 10-year, multi-million-dollar deal with Formula One last year. State media reported hosting its own F1 race would cost Vietnam $60 million per year (Dh220m).

The fee has been picked up in full by the country's largest private conglomerate, VinGroup.