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Coronavirus travel restrictions force cancellation of MotoGP in Qatar

The season-opening MotoGP race in Qatar has been cancelled due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

The season-opening MotoGP race in Qatar has been cancelled as travel restrictions from Italy have been put in place in the wake of coronavirus, which continues to spread and wreck havoc around the globe.

The restrictions have meant dozens of Italian-based riders and team personnel are unable to fly out of the nation for the race at the Losail International Circuit, originally scheduled for March 8th.

MotoGP released a statement on Monday morning outlining the reason for the race cancellation.

"The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has resulted in Qatar travel restrictions being brought into force that affect passengers from Italy, amongst other countries," the statement from MotoGP read. "As of today, all passengers arriving at Doha on direct flights from Italy, or having been in Italy in the past 2 weeks, will be taken straight to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

"Italy clearly plays a vital role in the Championship and in the MotoGP class - both on track and off - and therefore the decision has been taken to cancel premier class competition."

Moto2 and Moto3 is still scheduled to go ahead as planned, given riders and teams are already in Qatar for pre-season testing.

The MotoGP cancellation in Qatar means the new season-opener will be in Thailand on March 22nd.

The news comes several weeks after Formula One decided to scrap April's Chinese Grand Prix. There's also some doubt as to whether the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix will go ahead on April 5th.