Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - War, politics and coronavirus: When the real world catches up with MotoGP

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


War, politics and coronavirus: When the real world catches up with MotoGP

The Qatar and Thai MotoGP Grands Prix have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak but this isn't the first time when MotoGP has been affected by world events

Motorcycle racing and other sports are bubbles – microcosms of life that allow competitors and fans to invest themselves in something wonderful but ultimately trivial.

When working in the paddock during a MotoGP weekend it’s possible to forget that the rest of the world exists. All that matters is who steps onto the box and pops the prosecco at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

But of course the rest of world does exist. In the 1960s British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was asked what’s most likely to derail a government. “Events, dear boy, events,” he replied. And that’s exactly what’s happening to the 2020 MotoGP world championship – it is being overtaken by events.

It’s remarkable it’s taken this long. Over the decades MotoGP has done remarkably well in dodging the slings and arrows of the real world. War, terrorism, politics and economics affect everything around them, but until now the championship has been lucky enough to dodge those bullets.

The cancellation of all premier-class activity at this weekend’s season-opening Qatar GP and the postponement of round two in Thailand, originally scheduled for March 22, may only be the start of the MotoGP/coronavirus story.

The season is now expected to start at COTA, USA, on April 5, but how will U.S. immigration feel about allowing several thousand paddock people – many of them travelling from areas badly affected by coronavirus – into Texas? We don’t know yet but we will find out soon enough.

In fact this isn’t the first time the world championships have lost their opening two rounds. This time 30 years ago, the 1980 season-opening Venezuelan round was called off for political reasons – uncertainties created by a change of national government. And round two fell victim to bad weather.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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