UPDATE (9:14am): The Australian Grand Prix has officially been cancelled. Further updates here.
The 2020 Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled following news the McLaren Racing team was withdrawing from the Formula 1 event due to one of its members testing positive for the coronavirus.
The British team announced that it would withdraw its representatives, including drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, in a Twitter statement issued late on the evening of March 12, 2020 (AEDT).
"McLaren Racing has confirmed this evening in Melbourne that it has withdrawn from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, following the positive test of a team member for the coronavirus," the tweet read.
"The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities."
The affected team member has not yet been identified.
McLaren Racing withdraws from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/BZvHVKQoev— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 12, 2020
Although Sky Sports and the BBC both reported in the early hours of Friday morning that the Grand Prix was cancelled, motor sport governing body the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) waited to confirm the decision until around 10.30am AEDT.
Whilst some media outlets are reporting that the Australian Grand Prix is cancelled, I can confirm that is NOT the case. Yet. We've been told that unless we hear otherwise in the next 30 minutes, we're heading in. Meeting currently taking place to decide our fate... #F1PP— F1 Paddock Pass (@F1PaddockPass) March 12, 2020
In a series of tweets before the event's cancellation, the AGPC explained that it had been instructed to carry out nine tests for coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, resulting in seven negative results, one positive and one pending.
"The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) & F1 have been advised by the Victorian Chief Health Officer of the results of tests relating to eight personnel from the F1 Paddock," the tweets read.
"Of these eight tests, seven individuals have returned a negative result confirming that they do not have the COVID-19 virus. An eighth individual has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. It has been confirmed that the individual was a member of the McLaren Racing Team.
"Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending. This individual is not associated with any F1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers. The AGPC will provide updates as further details become available."
Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the COVID-19 virus, with the results of this test pending. This individual is not associated with any F1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers. The AGPC will provide updates as further details become available.— Australian Grand Prix #AusGP (@ausgrandprix) March 12, 2020
The revelation swiftly reignited calls for the annual event – which typically attracts over 300,000 attendees over four days – to be cancelled due to fears for the spread of the virus, which was this week declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
The AGPC initially said it was in discussions with the Department of Health regarding the "broader implications" of the positive test result.
Meanwhile, Formula 1 said it was "coordinating with all the relevant authorities on the next steps. Our priority is the safety of the fans, the teams and all personnel at the race".
On Friday, the hashtag #CancelTheGrandPrix was trending on Twitter, with over 2000 tweets.
In a press conference in Melbourne on Thursday, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton said he was "really very, very surprised that we're here".
"I think it’s great that we have races but for me it’s shocking that we’re all sitting in this room," he said.
"It’s a concern, I think, for the people here. It’s quite a big circus that’s come here. So it’s definitely concerning for me."
MORE: Formula One news