The future of the largest tourism event in Canada is up in the air.
For the second year in a row, the Canadian Grand Prix, held every June in Montreal, might be cancelled, after Montreal Public Health authorities recommended against it.
“Facing the uncertainty of variants, Montreal’s Public Health issued reservations on holding the event at the beginning of June as it can generate outbreaks and contribute to the degradation of the epidemiological situation which is currently fragile in Montreal,” wrote Éric Forest in an email to Global News.
According to public health, having thousands of fans gathered in one place is too risky.
Authorities are also worried about participants arriving to town without quarantining, as they would be coming straight from another event in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.
“We have asked Quebec’s health ministry to consider these concerns when making its decision and to enhance protocols if they event were to take place,” Forest explained.
When asked about the matter on Thursday, Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dubé offered a vague response.
“I have enough decisions already on my mind, I’ll leave that to Dr. Arruda and Dr. Mylène Drouin,” Dubé said, adding both health authorities are currently in discussions.
Meanwhile Montreal mayor Valérie Plante says negotiations are also still ongoing with the promoter –Octane Racing Group– and they haven’t reached a clear-cut decision.
“This is where we need to navigate through negotiations and making sure what would it be like,” Plante told Global News.
“I’m not in a place where I can share that right now. Again, I’m going to wait to have all the precisions from public health and also continuing to talk to the promoter and Formula 1, things that I’ll been doing in the next few days.”
Plante says negotiations include considerations about holding the event with or without fans.
“So of course we can imagine with the public, it brings money, it brings clients to restaurants, to hotels, it creates a great buzz. Without the public, it would have been quite different,” Plante said.
“Ultimately, I think that my position on this is that if we don’t have it this year for public health reasons. We have to make sure that in the next coming years Montreal will still be the place we have the only Grand Prix in Canada.”
As for the promoter, Octane Racing Group spokesperson Sandrine Garneau-Le Bel says they won’t comment until they receive public health authorities’ decision in writing.
They were expecting that to happen this past Monday, Garneau-Le Bel said, adding that once they do, it’ll be up to the group’s stakeholders to decide whether they can go ahead or not with the conditions imposed.
— With files from Global’s Tim SargeantView link »