Next month’s Ypres Rally will run without spectators following a decision taken by the event organizers and the Belgian national government.
The original plan had been for the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship to include up to 72 spectator zones across the three days – each of those zones could take up to 400 fans. That plan was scrapped, with the FIA confirming the news to the teams on Wednesday.
The governing body told series stakeholders: “The current Covid-19 situation in Belgium and its potential impact on the running of Ypres Rally Belgium 2020 is one that is being monitored and discussed on a daily basis by FIA, WRC Promoter and Ypres Rally.
“Following a meeting of the national government at the end of last week, Ypres Rally has revised its plan and is now scheduled to run without spectators, in line with the changes to restrictions on professional sport that were announced by the Belgian government last week.
“As well as the government guidelines, all of the key stakeholders of the sport are extremely conscious of the responsibilities and risks of bringing a major event to a city, region and country and discussions are ongoing with all required governmental institutional parties to mitigate this risk.
“We are anticipating there will be further discussions between local mayors and regional governor at the end of this week to take any proactive and strategic decisions that may need to be taken to hold a safe and successful Ypres Rally Belgium.”
The Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix venue Spa-Francorchamps, which will play host to two special stages during the rally, closed its door to fans last Monday and it will remain that way until Mid-November.
The FIA’s update was at pains to stress that – despite speculation – the next round of the world championship remains on track, adding: “We can currently assure [you] that no decision has been taken to cancel the event and all necessary actions for the rally to take place are continuing.”