Suzuka 8 Hours canceled due to Japan travel restrictions

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The flagship race of the FIM Endurance World Championship had already been pushed back from its usual July slot to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was hoped in the fall that travel restrictions would be eased enough to allow international passengers to travel to Japan, but foreign travelers from more than 140 different countries are still banned from entering the country except in exceptional circumstances. .

Without relaxing the rules in sight, the decision was made not to organize the Suzuka 8h as a purely national meeting and to end the race for the first time since the inaugural race in 1978.

This means that the 2019/20 EWC season should now conclude with September’s Bol d’Or at Paul Ricard, which will follow the 24 Hours of Le Mans cycling race later this month.

François Ribeiro, boss of promoter EWC Eurosport Events, said: “We have worked hard with [Suzuka track owner] Mobilityland to reschedule the race from July to November – a first since 1978 – and then to organize the entry into Japan of international teams and runners with a special business visa.

“Our hopes have been dashed with the immigration restrictions for foreigners. The cancellation of the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours is not a matter of spectator access. The decision has been made not to stage this iconic race as a national event.

“The Suzuka 8 Hours, the most prestigious endurance race in the world for 40 years, will not happen without the best international drivers.”

Among the international stars scheduled to take part in Suzuka were Kawasaki trio Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores, as well as Yamaha duo Niccolo Canepa and Marvin Fritz.

Rea and then-Kawasaki World Superbike teammate Leon Haslam secured Kawasaki’s first Suzuka 8 Hours victory since 1993 at last year’s race, which ended controversially.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team

Photo by: Jun Goto

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