The Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), the governing body in motorcycling racing, is starting to feel the heat. With the back-to-back cancellations of premier motorsports events like the MotoGP and the Superbike World Championship, motorcycle fans are now asking, “what lies ahead for us?”
To save motorcycle racing, the FIM is racing against time to come up with health measures to ensure the welfare not only of the millions of racing spectators, but of the event organizers and racing officials as well. Up to now, apparently, there is still no foolproof answer to the uncertainties now hounding this sector.
With the initiative of FIM-Asia president Macky Carapiet, Dr. David McManus, FIM international medical commission director, presided the first-ever webinar on the effects of COVID-19 to motorcycle racing events last April 24, 2020. “I am itching to go back to the sport as you are, but I think we have to stop for a moment and think of the situation like this and prepare for ways that we did not have exactly before,” said McManus during the one-hour online seminar.
An icon at the FIM, McManus fired up the discussion by providing information on COVID-19: background, symptoms, and impact of this illness; prevention and management; and future implications to motorsports. He believes the global threat of COVID-19 will decline in a slow, stepwise fashion, that would require all sectors to adopt sustained preventive measures to avoid its recurrence.
As the lecture proceeded, McManus zeroed into the role of the national and local governments in the regions where the races are regularly held but are now busy ‘flattening the curve.’
“It’s nice to have our local governments for our advance (events) to see what are their requirements are. And we also need to work with national and local health providers from the health agencies to see what the restrictions and requirements like the wearing of face masks and gloves and so on,” he said.
We all know that the participants, mechanics, and other support staff of international motorcycle racing teams travel around the world for the racing events. They are followed by throngs of fans who book commercial flights and hotel accommodations just to see their idols. But with the absence of a new and effective health protocol, this would only mean disaster.
Instead of answers, the webinar participants were flooded with questions coming from McManus: Will social distancing be imposed on racing venues? Will the paddock visits of the spectators be a thing of the past? Do the organizers have the capacity to create a safe distance between race officials, competitors, and spectators? Is it wise to conduct surveillance and monitoring on all those present on the race track?
“I don’t know. I am only posing the questions for consideration. I think we need to make assessments, event by event,” he stressed. Instead, Dr. McManus floated some possible risk-mitigating factors to which local government units may have a big impact.
He specifically cited the need for race organizers to coordinate with the LGUs to determine their prevailing health measures. It is equally important for organizers to know if it is mandatory to use protective equipment such as face masks and gloves, along with the availability of sanitizers and disinfectants at the different venues.
McManus also raised the possibility of repatriating a team member to his country if found positive with this potentially fatal illness. Whether this will materialize or not still remains a million-dollar question.
“I think it will increase the likelihood of national and local government making us go ahead with the events rather than just showing at events unprepared for the risks. The latter will create an adverse effect on the reputation of motorsports, and as organizers of the event and as governing body,” McManus explained.
You heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. So before you make any plans to attend any of the world motorcycle racing events in the future, make sure you get updates first from the FIM. Stay tuned!