Chinese Grand Prix postponed due to coronavirus

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Why moving the Chinese GP is such a headache for F1 (1:06)

Nate Saunders explains why it's really hard to see the postponed Chinese Grand Prix going ahead in 2020. (1:06)

Formula One has postponed the Chinese Grand Prix because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

As previously reported by ESPN, the Shanghai event -- set to be the fourth of a record-breaking 22 races on the F1 schedule this year -- will not go ahead as planned on April 19. The race promoter, Juss Sports Group, requested the race to be postponed, which was accepted by F1.

In a statement Wednesday, F1 said it is working with the promoter and local authorities to study "the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve."

The congested nature of the rest of F1's 2020 calendar makes rearranging the event a tricky proposition.

With China not taking place, there will now be a four-week gap between the two new races, the Vietnam Grand Prix on April 5 and the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3. However, it's unlikely F1 will find a replacement race for that date at such late notice.

Speaking at an event in Baku, Azerbaijan, before the news was made official, F1 boss Chase Carey said the decision had to be made for safety reasons.

"We're not going to do something that isn't good for us or the teams," he said.

He also said F1 is monitoring the status of Vietnam, which shares a border with China.

"The reality of today, in most other countries [away from China], the number of people affected is a handful," he said. "But we don't know what it will be in a week or two."

This is the first F1 race to be canceled since the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, which was called off because of civil unrest.

As of Wednesday, the death toll from coronavirus has risen past 1,100, with over 44,000 reported cases. The World Health Organisation has declared it a global health emergency.

The outbreak of the flu-like virus has canceled a number of sporting events, including the scheduled Formula E race in Sanya, China, in March.

Many other events in Asia have also been affected. Olympic qualifying events in soccer, boxing, basketball and badminton that were scheduled in China in February already have been moved to Australia and Serbia. The World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing have been postponed by a year to March 2021.