Formula One (F1) and its racing promoter Singapore Grand Prix (GP) has cancelled the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2020. In a press release, it is said that the cancellation is due to a continuing nationwide restrictions on construction and business activities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement to Marketing, Singapore Airline (SIA) said it understands and supports the decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It added that it hopes to welcome the iconic night race back to Singapore in the future. SIA did not respond further on the queries regarding sponsorship dollars and future adjustment plans to the contract. In 2019, SIA extended its title sponsorship of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix for another two years until 2021. The national airline first came on board as a title sponsor in 2014, and has subsequently continued the sponsorship.
Apart from the closure of the event venue, Singapore GP said challenges in bringing this event to life include ongoing mass gathering and worldwide travel restrictions. With these limitations, building and construction work of the circuit which normally commences in May, have not been able to commence. Singapore GP said it is therefore unable to complete the race circuit infrastructure in time for the race to take place. It also said that the confirmation of the cancellation will also give certainty to its commercial partners, ticket holders, and fans. The race was scheduled to commerce on 20 September 2020.
Singapore GP still engaging community
In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson from Singapore GP said as in past racing seasons, it will continue to launch its campaign to engage the local and regional community throughout the year. The campaign includes roving exhibitions featuring F1 simulators, school visits, public screenings, behind the scene tours and educational talks. The spokesperson added that at the moment, it is also looking at how it can expand and enhance this programme to ensure that F1 remains top of mind, in spite of the cancellation of the race.
Since its cancellation of the race, Singapore GP has released a video on its Facebook and Instagram account, encouraging fans to look forward to its return next season. The 30-second video featured snippets of past year races, accompanied with the caption "Down, but not out. Sparks will fly on the streets of Singapore again. Nothing else truly comes close, so chin up, and hang tight. We'll be back." The film has garnered 9,400 views on Facebook, with 111 shares and 437 reactions (consisting of likes, loves, and sad reactions).
Colin Syn, deputy chairman of Singapore GP, said the last few months have been "extremely challenging" for the organiser, and cancelling the event is a "difficult decision" which F1 and its stakeholders have had to take. "Ultimately, the health and safety of our contractors and their workers, spectators, F1 crew, staff and volunteer marshals is our number one priority," Syn said, adding that it looks forward to welcoming fans to the race next season and wish the F1 community well as it starts its season in July. Besides Singapore, the 2020 Azerbaijan and Japanese Grands Prix have also been cancelled in the wake of COVID-19.
Ong Ling Lee, director, sports, Singapore Tourism Board, said it supports the cancellation decision as it safeguards the health and wellbeing of participants, fans and all Singaporeans. She added that since its launch in 2008, the Formula One race has brought benefits for the Singapore economy with many local businesses actively involved in race preparations and operations. "We take pride in our track record of hosting the first and only F1 night street race for the past 12 years, and we look forward to its return next year," Ong said.
In an earlier conversation with Marketing, José Colagrossi, Kantar Sports' global chief operating officer said given there is no precedence regarding what is currently happening in the world of sports globally, but postponing tournaments, as opposed to just cancelling them, appears to be the best alternative.
From a sponsorship perspective, it is also easier to deal with contracts on a postponed and/or shorter season as opposed to a cancelled one.
Also, sport is fuelled by passion and not having a season leaves "an empty space" in this passion. Therefore, Colagrossi said ideally, postponing a season, even at the cost of running it shorter, is a better alternative.
Meanwhile, Prakash Kamdar, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Singapore said laying low isn’t a good move for brands during this period, especially if the event is put on ice. Brands have an opportunity, even an obligation, to demonstrate leadership, empathy and positivity to their audiences and to the larger global community during times like these, he added. "They can do so by creating and amplifying content that spreads the right messages through themselves or brand ambassadors. One example of a brand that has done this is Nike, which recently encourage consumers to practice social distancing and quarantine themselves via an Instagram post. The post said: "If you ever [dreamt] of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world."