The fate of the premier Chinese Grand Prix hangs in balance with reports stating that the event planned on April 19 may be postponed or cancelled due to the novel coronavirus. Several British media outlets ran reports on Wednesday saying the Shanghai race, the fourth of the new season, will be either postponed or cancelled.

According to a report in AFP on Wednesday, an announcement about the race will be made on Thursday, but according to the BBC, it is “expected to be postponed”.

It also throws into doubt the inaugural race in Vietnam, which takes place two weeks before Shanghai but where there have also been cases of the virus, officially named COVID-19.

Formula One’s managing director Ross Brawn said last week that they will look to reschedule the Shanghai race if it does not go ahead in April. “We will leave open the opportunity to see if the race can run later in the year,” he said, according to the BBC.

“China is an enthusiastic, growing market so we’d like to have a race in China.” China has been forced to cancel or put off a host of sporting events due to the coronavirus epidemic, from suspending all football in the country to postponing the first badminton tournament of the 2020 world tour season.

The world’s most populous country has increasingly become a powerhouse in hosting international sport in recent years, but has had its sporting calendar thrown into chaos.

Athletics’ World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing in March 13-15, have been postponed for a year.

The Chinese Formula E Grand Prix, due to take place in Sanya on the southern island of Hainan on March 21, was called off “after close consultation” with government authorities.

(With inputs from AFP)