MONTREAL (AP) — The Canadian Grand Prix remains on the Formula One schedule for the 2021 season for now amid concerns by Montreal health officials about the potential spread of COVID-19.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said Thursday the concerns do not mean the June 11-13 race is canceled for a second year in a row.
“The fact is that Montreal public health issued a notice opposing the holding of the Grand Prix, even behind closed doors,” Plante said, according to Canadian Press. “What we want is for public health departments to communicate together before we make anything official. It’s the least we can do, out of respect for the various partners.
“In the end, whatever the decision, and if it turns out that the Grand Prix is not coming back to Montreal this year, we will work to ensure the Grand Prix continues to take place in Montreal.”
Annie Dufour, a spokeswoman for Montreal public health, said the agency was in no position to authorize the cancellation of the race.
“We’re not the ones taking the decision,” she said. “We can simply give recommendations and revaluate levels of risk. Obviously, given the fragile epidemiological state in Montreal, we shared our hesitation over the holding of the event.”
The Canadian Grand Prix also was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Octane Management, which is is responsible for organizing Montreal’s F1 event, declined to comment.
Quebec Minister of the Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon said partners involved are trying to minimize the consequences associated with any cancellation.
“What I can tell you is that, indeed, the Quebec government wants to keep the Canadian Grand Prix from 2022 to 2029,” he said. “The economic benefits are important for Quebec.”
He also addressed whether a cancellation would entail a breach of contract with F1.
“It’s a contract,” he said. “There’s an agreement between the European authorities and the Canadian Grand Prix that’s valid until 2029. So if the Grand Prix does not take place this year, it will be because of a force majeure. We’re living a very special situation, and health takes precedence over the economy.”