In response to the rapidly changing developments around COVID-19 (commonly known as Coronavirus) here in Australia and globally, the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) issues the following update on upcoming ANDRA-sanctioned events. This update is in line with the restrictions and recommendations issued by Federal and State Government agencies.
In recent days, we have seen rapidly escalating restrictions imposed Australia-wide on both travel and non-essential public gatherings and many events both large and small have been postponed or cancelled.
ANDRA does not wish to unduly impair the sport, our members, our supporters or our clubs and facilities from holding events, however at the same time we must acknowledge our responsibility to comply with the restrictions and protect the health and wellbeing of everyone involved in ANDRA-permitted events. We are also conscious of the role we feel we must play in helping to ‘flatten the curve’ of community transmission as a socially responsible member of the wider community.
As such, after extensive review and consultation based on the information provided by Federal and State Government Chief Medical Officers as well as the Chief Medical Officers of other sport and motorsport sanctioning bodies in Australia and internationally, ANDRA has moved swiftly to introduce new specific criteria based on the Government guidelines for all ANDRA-permitted events, effective immediately.
This new criteria will assist ANDRA and its permitted events to abide by the guidelines, requirements and recommendations of the various Federal and State Governments and medical experts, and requires that no ANDRA-permitted event may proceed in the immediate future if it will host more than 500 persons on-site.
It is important to note that this number of ‘500’ is not defined as spectators only. Instead, it covers all persons who will be on-site for an event including competitors, crew members, family, friends, officials, track staff, volunteers, event suppliers and contractors of any kind, medical staff, spectators and so on.
ANDRA acknowledges that while some ANDRA-permitted events may be able to continue without spectators or involve fewer than the 500 person on-site limit, with other events this will unfortunately not be possible. The decision by ANDRA or any of its clubs or facilities to postpone or cancel any events will never be taken lightly, and we take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused during this unprecedented time.
Based on the Victorian Government position at this time, any restriction is in place until at least April 13, 2020, but this will be continually reviewed as new advice from State and Federal Governments, as well as other sanctioning bodies and their Chief Medical Officers, comes to light.
While drag racing events do not typically meet the definition of a ‘static’ event as discussed recently by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, various forms of State legislation we are seeing published today are not defining the ban on non-essential public gatherings as ‘static’ and in addition, particularly note that outdoor events are covered by the ban including sporting events such as those held by schools.
Social distancing is a key element in the efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 transmission and while transmission risk may be mitigated in some circumstances by the nature of drag racing venues, we believe we have an important part to play in proactively assisting however we can with the slowing down of community transmission.
We recognise that some will feel this decision is being made too early, but we believe it is the most socially responsible course of action to move quickly in light of what is known about COVID-19, as explained by the Federal Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, in his most recent press conference:
“The most important of (the social distancing measures) is the recommendation that non-essential organised gatherings of greater than 500 do not proceed. Social distancing is a very important measure to delay the growth in the spread of coronavirus. We have early evidence of community transmission, mostly in New South Wales but a little bit in other states. We have moved quite early to institute social distancing measures. Earlier than some might have suggested because the international evidence is suggesting that if you move before community transmission is well-established, you can get much better benefits. So we have made the decision quite early…But I want to say that this is a pre-emptive move to get ahead of the curve. Social distancing can be difficult for the community, we understand that, and we understand that the community is with us on the need to try and slow the spread of this virus in our community. And we do know that larger gatherings, larger groups are well known internationally to be one of the quickest ways to spread the virus if there is community transmission…We are starting these measures perhaps a little bit before some have said they are needed. We in Australia want to flatten that curve and keep us under really tight control. We do not want to see rapid increases like we have seen in some parts of the world. That is why we are moving early.”
In addition, we expect further restrictions may come into place in the coming weeks. Indeed, in just the past four days, we have seen restrictions escalate rapidly and when we consider this in line with observing how the COVID-19 response is developing overseas, we believe it is sensible to anticipate that further restrictions could/will be put into place and therefore have acted now to provide a clear path forward for our membership and hopefully reduce at least some of the inconvenience that would be caused by later action.
ANDRA Grand Finals
As a result of the Government guidelines regarding non-essential public gatherings and social distancing, ANDRA and Adelaide Drag Race Promotions (ADRP) – the promoter for host-venue Adelaide International Raceway (AIR) – wishes to advise that the Grand Finals event has been postponed and is now rescheduled for October 2020.
In addition to our necessary dedication to the health and wellbeing of our community and subsequent commitment to social distancing measures as discussed above, the fact that events such as the Grand Finals have logistical and travel requirements must be taken into account.
It is typical that ANDRA members travel large distances to compete in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series. We want to avoid them embarking on this travel when further restrictions may be implemented between now and the Grand Final event. We also cannot guarantee that some competitors would not be unfairly disadvantaged in their championship attempts by restrictions placed upon them during this time which is beyond our control. We are making this decision now to allow teams to avoid any unnecessary travel or exposure for themselves and community members and to hopefully provide as fair of a playing field for the Grand Finals as is possible.
The option of continuing the event on the scheduled dates on a ‘no spectator’ basis has been considered. However, there are two reasons this is not possible. Firstly, with the number of competitors already entered, even without spectators this event would easily exceed the 500 person on-site limit when crew members, track staff and volunteers, officials, event contractors and suppliers and other required personnel are taken into account. Secondly, given the rapidly changing situation and the likely implementation of further restrictions to come combined with the impact this would have on competitors and the promoter, we have decided this is not an appropriate course of action at this time.
“This decision is greatly disappointing for everyone involved, especially given all of the hard work and effort that has gone into preparing for this event, however the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Grand Finals will go ahead later this year and champions will be celebrated at that time,” ANDRA Chief Executive Officer, Brett Stevens, said.
“When it comes to protecting the safety of our community, and we have the opportunity to postpone early to not only do our part in ‘flattening the curve’ but also assist our members to avoid as much inconvenience as possible, we believe that this is the right course of action.
“This is a challenging period for events across Australia and the world and we hope that we will have your support as we attempt to do our best for our drag racing community in light of these rapidly changing times. It is important that we band together and take care of each other as we work together to get through this unprecedented situation.”
At this stage, it is anticipated that the Grand Finals will be held during the month of October 2020 at AIR and will double as a round of the 2020/2021 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series. The 2020/2021 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series is planned to commence with back-to-back events in Alice Springs and then Darwin in August of 2020. ANDRA anticipates publishing intended dates shortly.
Competitors who have entered the Grand Finals should contact ADRP via www.adelaidedrags.com.au for a refund if they wish to do so.
ANDRA will continue to monitor the situation and act in line with advice from State and Federal Government departments and other medical experts for all ANDRA-sanctioned events, while keeping key stakeholders and members up to date as much as possible.
We are currently facing an international health crisis which requires everyone to do their part and avoid unnecessary risks. We hope you will work with us during this difficult time.