As some call on the federal and state governments to do more to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus, one person has gone to particularly extreme lengths to get their message across.
The chosen communication method of the apparently concerned citizen? Sky writing.
Sydneysiders were left wondering what was behind the message scrawled across the sky Wednesday afternoon which simply said: “Stop F1”.
Despite appearing in the Sydney skyline, for most, it appeared to be a message calling for the Formula 1 Grand Prix not to go ahead in Melbourne this weekend.
Hobart’s Dark Mofo festival has been cancelled while experts warn the virus could throw Australia’s sporting calendar into disarray with the prospect of empty stadiums possibly looming.
Despite the concerns of some, and the fact that Australia has introduced a travel ban for anyone coming from Italy – due to come into effect from Wednesday night – organiser’s of the Grand Prix event remain undeterred.
However, a key point of concern for organisers has been the presence of Italian teams Ferrari and the newly rebranded AlphaTauri team, formerly Toro Rosso, as well as tyre supplier Pirelli.
Members of all three organisations had their temperatures taken upon arrival in Melbourne and key F1 officials have said a race for championship points will not go ahead without them.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has denied suggestions it lobbied the the federal government to hold off on an Italy travel ban to allow the Ferrari team to arrive in the country.
Dark Mofo cancelled but the Grand Prix going ahead? What’s the actual deal #auspol
— PatriciaKarvelas (@PatsKarvelas) March 10, 2020
According to motorsport.com, the F1 released a statement earlier this week saying it was implementing comprehensive testing measures for those involved in the event.
“Dedicated teams of experts will be deployed at airports, transit points and at circuits to safeguard personnel, focused on the diagnosis, management and extraction of suspected cases,” it said.
“Bespoke quarantine points are being installed by promoters for any suspected cases.”
However, on Wednesday it was reported that three Formula 1 team members were placed into isolation due to concerns they had contracted COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Australian Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo pulled out of a scheduled Renault team media conference over fears he might be exposed to the virus.
— Mike Searle (@MikeTSearle) March 11, 2020
The controversy around the event comes the Grattan Institute urged the government to avoid greater economic disruption down the line by enforcing social distancing measures and avoiding large events to pre-empt the spread.
“We have taken an extraordinarily big risk in order to hold a car race,” CEO of the Grattan Institute John Daley told The Guardian Wednesday.
“This risks taking us from a situation where we had virtually no community transmission to one where we are forced to shut down a lot of community activities to prevent a lot of people from dying.”
Next week's race in Bahrain will take place behind closed doors, while the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 19 has been postponed.
It’s unclear who was behind the sky writing on Wednesday, but they’re certainly not alone in warning of the dangers posed by this weekend’s event.
More than 300,000 fans attended race week at Melbourne’s Albert Park last year, according to estimates by organisers.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has repeatedly called for calm in the community this week, saying he remains confident that Australia will be able to “contain and isolate and limit the scale of community transmission”.
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