The Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, the most prestigious event of the season, will be held on May 23 with 7,500 spectators who will have to undergo PCR tests, the government of the Principality announced on Tuesday.
This is quite an exceptional capacity in the healthcare context, while in France outdoor sports establishments will be able to resume with the public on May 19, but with a capacity strictly limited to 1,000 spectators.
“It is important that it be held with a minimum of public participation and in unquestionable sanitary conditions,” stressed Secretary of State Pierre Dartout.
It will be the world’s first Grand Prix in 2021 to be held with such an audience, while F1 has been operating under a bubble since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the Formula One Tuscan Grand Prix was the first of the season to gather a crowd, from September 11-13, with nearly 3,000 spectators a day. In a season of 17 Grands Prix, mostly behind closed doors, other events in the autumn had been able to welcome more spectators, in Russia, Germany or Portugal, where there were some 25,000 spectators.
In 2021, some spectators vaccinated or cured of Covid-19 were present at the inaugural round in Bahrain on March 28. The Emilia-Romagna (Imola) and Portugal (Portimao) GPs were held behind closed doors, while the Spanish GP, at the Barcelona-Catalunya-Barcelona circuit, will host 1,000 people on Sunday.
By comparison, up to 9,500 spectators will be able to attend the Europa League final in Gdansk on May 26, as Polish authorities have authorized 25% attendance, UEFA announced on Monday when ticket sales were opened. On May 21 and 22, a maximum of 10,000 spectators will be allowed for the two rugby European Cup finals at London’s Twickenham Stadium.
The Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, canceled last year, has already sold “4,000 tickets,” said Christian Tornatore, general commissioner of the Automobile Club of Monaco, which relies on Italian residents to attend the event, which is often popular with the British. These “7,500 tickets correspond to a square of three to allow the distance,” he said.
In practice, on Thursday 20, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 May, there will be no restrictions regarding the origin of the public, who will have to present a PCR test at the border and to enter the circuit. Residents, employees of the Principality and Monegasques are exempt from the tests.
However, the capacity of the Grand Prix will be limited to 7,500 spectators (and only 3,000 on Friday 21, so as not to harm the organization). There will be no Fan Zone or standing, and the most delicate point will be the return of the spectators after the races to avoid crowds.
“We are all committed to ensuring that the event takes place in the best possible conditions, both for its economic impact, especially in the hospitality sector, and for the image of the Principality”, stressed Pierre Dartout.
Controls at the border will be intensified, especially at the Monaco-Monte Carlo Train Station, with staff trained to detect any falsified evidence, which should make this problem “marginal”, according to the secretary of state.
Later, several points of the organization will be clarified: the tonnage allowed on the yachts and people on the balconies, and access to restaurants, currently prohibited to non-residents.
“Bars should be open between 6:00 and 11:00 for breakfast and there will probably be some flexibility” for restaurants, Dartout said.
The economic impact, estimated at 100 million euros, “will undoubtedly be less than in a normal year, but the Prince’s philosophy remains the same”, with the aim of guaranteeing “a balance between preserving the economy and protecting of the health of the population, ”he said.
At the historic Grand Prix, held from April 23 to 25, only Monegasques, residents and people staying at the hotel were admitted: there were already 5,000 spectators.