Facemasks, sanitiser as Thais vow virus-free MotoGP

Spectators and teams at the Thailand MotoGP will face rigorous health screening and be given hand sanitiser and facemasks to keep the event coronavirus-free, organisers said Thursday.

The March 20-22 event in Buriram is going ahead despite fears over the deadly virus which have decimated Thailand's tourist numbers during peak season.

Thermal screening will be used at the racetrack's entrances, hotels will look out for anyone showing symptoms, and a 'Buriram Healthy' app will provide up-to-date health information.

Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix is among the long list of events postponed over the virus, but the inaugural F1 race in Vietnam, on April 5, is going ahead.

"We are 100 percent ready. I am confident with all of these measures everyone who visits Buriram will be safe," Newin Chidchob, owner of the Chang International Circuit racetrack, told reporters.

"I hope the MotoGP shows Thailand is safe and will quickly recover."

Newin, a powerful businessman close to the billionaire Thai owners of Leicester City Football Club, was flanked by Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand's health minister, who promised a virus-free event.

"There will be no cancellation or postponement," Anutin said, vowing to personally oversee health safety standards.

"It's a global event... that has generated three billion baht ($94 million) each of the last two years," he said.

"This year I hope that Thai fans will attend to compensate for any drop in foreign fans," he said.

Thailand has reported 40 cases of coronavirus. But there are fears other cases may have gone undetected.

Around 2,800 people have died from the virus, most of them in China, where a raft of sports tournaments have been cancelled or postponed in recent weeks.