Coronavirus NI: North West 200 in May is off

The 2020 fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 will not go ahead in May due to concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, the News Letter can confirm.

By Kyle White
Monday, 16th March 2020, 7:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 3:56 pm
North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte.
North West 200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte.

Already, the Cookstown 100 and Tandragee 100 Irish national road races have been postponed and late on Monday afternoon, it was confirmed that the Isle of Man TT has been cancelled altogether and will not take place later in the year.

A statement from the NW200 organisers said: "Given the current concerns and restrictions around the Coronavirus public health crisis, the organisers of the 2020 fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 will postpone the May 10-16 Race Week.

"Over the past two weeks we have been in constant contact with government and public health officials, representatives of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, and the sport’s governing body, the MCUI (UC)."

The statement added the decision was 'based upon the advice and guidance received.'

It added: "Our paramount desire is to act responsibly and do all we can to protect everyone from the threat posed by the virus.

"We enjoy the full support of loyal sponsors and stakeholders in making this decision but apologise for any inconvenience it has caused to them, our competitors, volunteers and race fans."

NW200 Event Director Mervyn Whyte and his team had been due to meet the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride, and public health officials on Monday morning, but the meeting was cancelled.

Following an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee on Monday afternoon, the British government advised against mass gatherings – a decision that effectively cancels all remaining sporting events in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that from Tuesday, ‘mass gatherings requiring emergency workers are something we are now moving emphatically away from’.

Last Friday, race chief Whyte told the News Letter that ultimately the race meeting would be cancelled if the government announced a ban on mass gatherings.

He said: “At the end of the day if we move from the containment stage to the delay stage and we’re told there are to be no mass gatherings, then obviously we have to heed that medical advice like everyone else.”

The last time the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT did not take place was due to Foot and Mouth disease in 2001, which crippled the agricultural industry.

Meanwhile, the Spring Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough next month has also been called off, while the first rounds of the Ulster Superbike Championship at Bishopscourt in Co Down – including the 44th Enkalon Trophy meeting at Easter – have been postponed indefinitely.

However, the organisers of the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man hope both events will go ahead as planned from August 22.