North West 200 cancelled due to Covid-19 risk
The organising Coleraine Club said the decision had been made with “great regret” but conceded that calling off Ireland’s biggest motorcycle race was the “only responsible course of action”.
A provisional date for the 2022 meeting of May 8-14 has been set.
It had been hoped that the event, which marked its 90th anniversary in 2019, could be staged on alternative dates in August after former race chief Mervyn Whyte told the News Letter earlier this month it was ‘highly unlikely’ the race would go ahead as planned from May 11-15.
This latest setback for road racing comes after the Tandragee 100 was cancelled last week, while Motorcycling Ireland President Sean Bissett told this newspaper that all national races in the Republic of Ireland had been called off, with the exception of the Skerries 100.
In a statement, Coleraine and District Motor Club Ltd said: “It is with great regret that the Coleraine and District Motor Club Ltd has to announce the cancellation of the 2021 fonaCAB Nicholl Oils North West 200.
“The official advice from government and public health officials has made it clear the effects of Coronavirus will remain with us for some considerable time to come, despite the rollout of the vaccination programme. In those circumstances, and after much consideration, the Club committee feels it would be impossible to run this year’s event.
“A contingency plan that involved delaying race week from May until August has been given full consideration. However, with so much time, expense and personnel involved in the planning and preparation of the NW200, the risk in pursuing such a plan is too great because of continued uncertainty around both the effects of the virus on our community and the extent of the restrictions aimed at suppressing it.”
The statement added that the top priority for the organisers was to ‘protect everyone involved with the North West 200 and the residents of the north coast area’.
“The Coleraine Club’s main priority must be to ensure the safety and wellbeing of not only those involved in the event, but also the residents of the north coast area and further afield.
“It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the organisers to limit the number of people who travel to the area during race week which, in turn, could pose a significant risk to the local population. That is a situation that cannot be contemplated.
“Although extremely disappointing, the decision to cancel the NW200 for the second year in a row is the only responsible course of action the Coleraine Club can take. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to all of our loyal sponsors, officials and volunteers for their understanding and support.”
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