F1: Formula One cancels 2023 Chinese Grand Prix over Covid restrictions

FILE - In this Sunday, April 14, 2019, file photo, drivers prepare for the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China. Formula One's governing body on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, says Shanghai Grand Prix scheduled for April postponed due to virus. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Drivers prepare for the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit in 2019. Credit: AP

Formula One has announced that next year’s Chinese Grand Prix will be cancelled amid ongoing Covid restrictions in the country.

The race in Shanghai was due to take place on April 16, 2023, but has since been scrapped.

“Formula 1 can confirm, following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the Covid-19 situation,” F1 said in a statement.

Protests have been sweeping China in recent weeks, as frustration grows with the return of virus restrictions that have outlasted measures in much of the rest of the world.

Demonstrators have openly criticised China's leader, Xi Jinping, in an extraordinary show of dissent in a country with a powerful censorship regime.

Students in Hong Kong chanted “oppose dictatorship” in a protest against China’s anti-virus controls. Credit: AP

People took to the streets in mainland China and Hong Kong to call for Xi's resignation.

Xi's administration has persisted with a broader 'zero-Covid' strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time.

The Chinese Communist Party had promised to change quarantine and other rules.

But an increase in infections prompted some cities to tighten restrictions in recent weeks, precipitating unrest.

Now, the loss of the key fixture has created a four-week hole in the 2023 motorsport calendar.

F1 has not visited the Shanghai circuit since 2019 as China pursued its strict policy of lockdowns and entry restrictions during the pandemic. It says it is looking at options to replace China on the 2023 calendar, after it extended its contract with the Chinese Grand Prix through to 2025 last year.

The cancelled Shanghai event is sandwiched by races in Melbourne on April 2 and Azerbaijan on April 30.

F1's 2023 season will start in Bahrain on March 5 and conclude in Abu Dhabi on November 26.

F1 expects to confirm whether the round in Shanghai will be replaced in the New Year.

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