The calendar is fixed but the difficulties are not lacking, especially for the trips to Southeast Asia. And the conditions of the last two years risk also projecting onto the 2022 MotoGP
From the post-war period to today, the World Championship has undergone profound transformations but in over 70 years it has never been influenced by external elements as in the last two seasons, due to infection with Covid-19. Pandemic which, due to variations, has regained vigor everywhere in the world, negatively affecting everything and everyone’s life and which risks undermining the performance of sport in 2022, including motorcycling.
The picture is darkening, because the pandemic does not make discounts, up to now also capable of circumventing vaccines, with the infesting of variants. Just as it was not easy to have the last two world championships held regularly, as shown by the reductions in races and the all-European calendar, so also for 2022 a process that is not without tensions is expected. The saying “Help yourself, heaven helps you” also applies to motorcycling: in this case, take action, do your best, don’t complain knowing that even under the storm you have to work hard and proceed anyway, without being overwhelmed. Isn’t that what, in the “small” of motorcycling, has happened in these last two seasons of MotoGP and also in Sbk, in the Spanish Cev and in the Italian Civ? Credit must be given to the whole environment, first of all to Dorna and Fim and to the national motorcycle federations and to the organizers of the circuits, for having resisted, not closing the shop. Of course, pieces have been lost, even important pieces: in the last two years – with the exception of the two GPs of Qatar 2021 and the GP of Texas on 3 October – no MotoGP World Championship test has been carried out outside Europe. In the last two seasons, important rounds such as the Sepang, Motegi, Buriram, Phillip Island GPs have been canceled. However, the 2021 World Cup went through with 18 rounds of which six between Spain and Portugal in addition to the doubles at Losail, Spielberg, Misano. World with a legitimate final result, for heaven’s sake, however considered “particular”, exceptional world. Will there be an exceptional World Cup in 2022 too?
The provisional calendar released by Dorna includes 21 Grands Prix from 6 March (Losail at night) to 6 November (Valencia), eight months of racing, which is the longest season ever. However, this is the goal that has to deal with the rapidly evolving reality, hoping that the long wave of the Omicron variant will lose strength and withdraw. Otherwise, as in a perverse game of the goose, you go back to where you started, putting everything into question. Meanwhile, the protocols that Dorna sent to the whole Circus in view of the MotoGP shakedown in Sepang (from January 31 to February 2) and the MotoGP tests also in Sepang (February 5/6) as well as the subsequent MotoGP tests (from 11 as of February 13) at the Mandalika Street Circuit on the island of Lombok in Indonesia, are particularly restrictive, bureaucratically and sanely convoluted. Not only that: further protective and coercive health measures are already prescribed by individual countries, such as in Malaysia where all members of the Circus are admitted to the tests after a negative test valid for 48 hours performed before departure for Southeast Asia, but also with the obligation to stay in the two main (and expensive) hotels at the Kuala Lumpur airport, where one arrives only after another swab done at the airport, with the obligation of isolation in the hotel until the outcome of the test. Other limitations, other obligations that we do not list here for the sake of brevity but which will make it really problematic for the Circus to reach its destination and move freely.
The sword of Damocles, however, hangs over everything and everyone, everywhere, because – according to experts – the wave of contagions from the Omicron variant, already heavy, could only be at the beginning. There is concern among international health authorities about the possible mutations of Omicron, making it elusive to the antibodies generated by existing vaccines. In the last round of the 2021 world championship in Valencia on November 14th, it seemed to be out of the tunnel by now. But in those days the Omicron variant was isolated for the first time, rekindling the pandemic with all its consequences. What to do? The World Championship, all sport, do not live on a happy island and are forced to deal with this situation, which is still in full evolution. We must not fall into the tunnel of pessimism. However, it is a fact that a little more than a month ago seemed to have embarked on the road towards a 2022 of normality: this, however, did not happen. What to do, limited to the World Championship and more generally to international sport? At the top of the motorcycle world championship and Formula 1, there are those who think of going to a further tightening by making vaccination mandatory for all Circus staff, even returning to the maximum restrictions on the stands of the circuits. In fact, for now, we are limited to respecting the decisions of individual states and their respective health authorities.
fans or not?
Then, the knot of the public in the stands comes up again. Continuing or accentuating the limits with very limited presences, the consequences could cause the organizers of the circuits an enormous sacrifice on the economic level. The situation is therefore again in strong evolution, everywhere, so today there is also in sport, specifically in motorcycling, great difficulty in making specific programs and in having defined and definitive commitments by the institutional and health authorities, national and international. But we cannot and must not stay still. This also applies to motorcycling. Knowing that the racing world is also facing a problematic situation, as never before since the postwar period. Now and in the coming weeks the goal is not to stop the car, to proceed with the 2022 calendar. It being understood that the priority concerns the safety, health and well-being of all, protagonists and spectators. There is no other way, for now. Take or leave.
26 December – 14:43
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