Animal Disease May Close British GP
April 10, 2001 | 10:00 A.M. EST
First Octagon, the event's management company, was criticized for moving the 2000 Grand Prix of Great Britain to Easter weekend, a time when the weather is still very chilly and miserable.
Now, after the FIA forced the organizers to move the race back to July 15, sources report that the spread of foot-and-mouth disease throughout England could effect the race. Indications are that the race may be closed to fans.
Although Britain’s Motor Sport Association has already canceled a number of auto racing events in the UK due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak, Octagon officials deny the reports and assure that ‘England’s biggest sporting event’ will continue at the Silverstone circuit as planned.
"The speculation and reports have been all taken out of context," an Octagon spokesperson told a British newspaper this week. "I can tell you now, barring spectators from the event at Silverstone is not what we are planning to do. The only way things would change with regards to foot-and-mouth is if anything developed close to the circuit. At the moment there is no plans to disrupt the event."
Octagon officials also pointed out that as of Monday, April 9, the closest confirmed case of foot-and-mouth disease is around ten miles away, and the organizers are “continually monitoring the foot-and-mouth problem surrounding the circuit.”
Although foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious, it rarely affects humans, and limits itself to cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and deer, often causing epidemics. The disease attacks the animal’s mouth area, creating soreness in the gums and thus prevents the animals from eating. The animal’s hooves then shed due to lack of nourishment.