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British Grand Prix, Australian Grand Prix canceled amid pandemic

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The MotoGP races in Britain and Australia are the latest to be canceled on the international motorcycle racing circuit because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers on Friday said COVID-19 pandemic "and resulting calendar changes have obliged the cancellation of both events."

The British Grand Prix had been scheduled for Aug. 28-30 at the Silverstone Circuit and the Australian Grand Prix was set to be staged at Phillip Island from Oct. 23-25.

"I want to thank the stoic British fans for their patience and support," Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said in a statement. "We must now look forward to 2021 when Silverstone will once again host the fastest and most historic MotoGP race on the calendar and work hard to make it a truly exceptional event."

Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of Dorna Sports, which has the commercial and TV rights for MotoGP, said the British and Australian races couldn't be rescheduled because there was "no way through the logistical and operational issues resulting from the pandemic and rearranged calendar."

MotoGP is aiming to start the series in Spain in July.

The first two MotoGP events of the year in Qatar and Thailand were canceled on March 2 because of travel restrictions. At the time, there had been 34 deaths from the COVID-19 illness in Italy and more than 1,100 people had tested positive.

The numbers of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Italy has risen to more than 33,000, which is the third-highest national toll behind the United States and Britain. Globally, there have been more than 360,000 deaths from COVID-19 among more than 5.8 million reported cases.