Given current concerns over Coronavirus, the organiser has decided to close sales of online tickets this week (on Friday 13th March 2020). This is to ensure that overall crowd levels for each day stay well below what is considered as a ‘major sporting event’. Most concern seems to be aimed at indoor events of more than 5000 people.
Like most people, we have been bemused by the recent panic stockpiling of toilet rolls. However, we can’t predict what advice will be issued by the Government over the coming weeks. The Isle of Wight Speed Trials on 28th and 29th March is both outdoors and undertaken over a large open site, where there is no need for crowding. It has been our stated intention to limit ticket sales in this first year and closing sales now is in-line with our planned approach. By closing ticket sales at this stage we aim to keep total numbers of competitors, organisers and spectators to less than 2000 on the day. This will give the event the best possible opportunity of going ahead as planned.
Organising a motorsport event of this type is uncharted territory, both in terms of using closed public roads and the resort venue. For this reason our ticket sales terms and conditions already limit our obligation to make full or partial refunds in the event either not taking place or in the circumstances where the event has to go ahead ‘behind closed doors’. The event is being delivered under an agreement between Solent (which as promoter has undertaken to shoulder the financial risk) and the Isle of Wight Car Club. Proceeds from competitor entries, sponsorship and spectator ticket sales has been committed to the costs of hosting and promoting. These costs are many and diverse, so our financial objective for the Speed Trials has been to achieve a breakeven position, with any surplus being donated to The Wildheart Trust based at the Isle of Wight Zoo.
In summary, the organiser is reacting swiftly and sensibly to the potential threat of cancellation due to Coronavirus and aiming to optimise the potential for the Isle of Wight Speed Trials to go ahead. Should the event be cancelled, ticket holders are respectfully asked to understand that there will be no winners and that full or partial refunds will be unlikely. The organisers took advice over event cancellation insurance several months ago and opted not to take this out as neither severe weather or a communicable disease such as Coronavirus would have been covered.
At the time of writing there is every reason to expect the Isle of Wight Speed Trials to proceed as planned. We will continue to monitor advice from Public Health England and other authorities.