Organisers of large events such as Formula One and other sporting and musical events will have to make their own decisions on whether go ahead with their plans while recognising the uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong during a media conference on Monday (1 June).
“I think there’s uncertainty that lies ahead and the organisers know full well that there is uncertainty,” said Mr Wong who co-chairs the multi-ministry taskforce on the pandemic with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
He was responding to media questions on the viability of holding large events such as Formula One and Rugby Seven with crowds in the coming months.
As Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix (GP) is set to flag off in September, Mr Wong noted that the country will be in Phase Two of reopening plans by that time, which would limit the size of gatherings to only five people to start with.
“So, we are not anticipating anything at the start of Phase Two that will come even close to a large crowd because we are talking about five people maximum,” he remarked.
However, he pointed out that the limit of five people could be expanded to a larger number and some events could “potentially” be allowed to happen with appropriate safe distancing measures if the situation permits or conditions are favourable, and if community infection remains under control.
“It’s possible in Phase Two but exactly when this can happen and whether the conditions would permit, it’s very uncertain, so we would not be able to tell anyone at this stage whether it is possible or not in September,” noted Mr Wong.
Singapore GP had geared up to go ahead with a live audience for its race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on 20 September, as reported by The Straits Times.
As part of preparations for race, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) had put up at least four tenders related to the set-up of viewing facilities and ancillary activities between February and April, such as construction and fitting out of the Temasek and Singapore suites at the F1 Pit Building, shuttle bus services for suite guests and precinct parties to be held in Orchard Road and Clarke Quay.
In general, the global pandemic has resulted in this year’s Formula One race season being postponed and several races being cancelled. It is set to finally kickstart in Austria this July without a live audience.
Singapore GP, however, said that it is “not feasible” to conduct the race behind closed doors as the Singapore F1 race is a street circuit. Singapore GP added that they have been maintaining an open dialogue with Formula One, the Government and stakeholders to assess different possibilities on how to proceed.