Next week’s FIA World Endurance Championship race at Sebring has been canceled in the wake of travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump issued a 30-day ban on foreign nationals traveling from 26 European nations, including France and Germany.
This will be put in place on Friday to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus strain that has been proliferating in Europe in recent days.
The ban will affect large numbers of drivers, team personnel, WEC staff and media who were set to travel from Europe to Florida for the race, which was scheduled for Mar. 20.
The decision to cancel the sixth round of the 2019-20 season was made during a meeting held shortly after the presidential announcement.
A WEC statement confirmed that IMSA president John Doonan, whose top series is currently set to race at Sebring next Saturday, was notified of and accepted the decision.
As of Mar. 11, a total of 124,519 cases of the virus and 4,607 associated deaths had been confirmed globally, according to World Health Organization data.
The cancelation of the WEC race marks the first instance of an FIA world championship event being called off due to the viral pandemic.
Other high-profile motorsport series have been affected by the new coronavirus, including MotoGP which canceled its Qatar race and Formula E which most recently canceled its planned event in Jakarta.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race, which was due to be held next month, will now be held in September.
“This decision was not made lightly,” said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.
“Our teams and officials place great value on racing at Sebring in front of its enthusiastic and knowledgeable fans.
“While this cancelation has been forced upon us because of the travel restrictions from Europe to the U.S, WEC remains committed at all times to the health and welfare of its teams, officials and race fans.
“Further, the quality of every aspect of a WEC race event is at the heart of everything that we do and will never be compromised.”
The WEC now faces the task of transporting the cars and paddock equipment back to each team’s headquarters for the European leg of the season.
As things stand, the next round on the calendar is the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Apr. 25.