Update: The Manx Government have today announced TT2020 is to be cancelled. In an effort to put off TT fans from coming over regardless of the fact the racing isn’t going ahead Chief Minister Howard Quayle also said anyone arriving on the Isle of Man would have to self isolate for 14 days.
Below is my argument for the cancellation of the TT which I wrote and published 3 days before the Gov announced their decision.
While the official line from the Manx Government is to wait as long as possible before making their decision it appears inevitable that TT2020 will be cancelled this June.
While the threat to the public in the Isle of Man remains low, a number of future contingency scenarios are being considered. This is usual practice and is in line with the WHO advice for preparations in case of a pandemic.
The risk is low and preparations for this year’s TT remain on schedule. Work will continue as usual in order to ensure another successful TT. Source
The feeling here on the island is that the chances of “another successful TT” are reducing daily.
A local in Laxey has started a petition in an attempt to force the House of Keys to cancel the TT and at the time of writing it has over 2000 signatures. You can find it here.
Anyone who has been to the IOM TT will tell you that the pubs are packed solid with locals and visitors alike. This is especially true if we have some wet days so you can see why many on the island are very much for cancelling the TT this year.
The most common arguments for cancelling the TT that I have heard are:
Nobles Hospital Wouldn’t Cope
This seems to be the best argument for cancelling the IOM TT this year. Nobles has 314 beds spread over 20 wards. This was reduced from 350 a few years ago and according the the Manx Government, while they have come close a few times, they have so far never actually ran out of bed space.
Should the Coronavirus peak at 60% of the island population being infected (this is the number the UK Gov. say we need to get to create a herd immunity) it equates to around 50,000 of the island’s residents.
If just 0.6% of those are going to be the old or infirm and requiring hospital treatment then that’s the hospital at full capacity.
Of course, there will not be 300 beds available because the hospital runs close to capacity anyway so you can see how this could be a major problem.
I have no idea how many ventilators are at Nobles hospital but if England has 5000 to cover 56 Million people it’s a safe bet there aren’t many on the island.
Where Would The Visitors Self Isolate?
The Isle of Man has approximately 900 hotel rooms so the majority of TT visitors use Home Stay or camp.
Home Stay is a program started by the Government which encourages locals to open their homes to visitors in exchange for a tax break on the money made. It is going to be pretty difficult to self isolate under these conditions should the need arise.
While the above is going to be difficult, self isolation is a none starter if you’re camping.
Other Events Have Been Cancelled or Rearranged
The other day the Premier League cancelled all fixtures despite the UK Gov. saying it wasn’t necessary and that the risk from these types of gatherings was low.
I suspect the PL thought they didn’t have much choice as the rest of the European leagues had already pulled the plug on their own matches.
Events in the motorsport world are being cancelled left, right and centre. The World Superbike openers have been rearranged while the MotoGP have scrapped their first 4 racing weekends. The F1 has cancelled their opening races and the season is on hold until the end of May when they plan to review the situation.
I suspect the Isle of Man Gov. will be watching to see whether the North West 200 goes ahead in May before finally making a decision. It would be hard to see how they couldn’t cancel if the NW200 does.
Will Anyone Show Up?
Will the competitors be fit enough and have the miles under their belt to be ready if other events have been cancelled?
Will the riders and fans be happy to show up knowing there’s potentially thousands of people from all over the world on the island and therefore increasing their chances of catching it?
Hooded Ram Cancels Alcohol License application
The Hooded Ram Brewery has withdrawn its liquor license application for the beer tent by the Sea Terminal citing insurance problems.
The brewers lawyer Mr Carter said that Hooded Ram was not able to obtain insurance for the event due to the public health concerns created by the coronavirus outbreak in Europe. This would leave the organisers responsible for costs if the event had to be cancelled on health grounds.IOM Today story here.
While Bushy’s and Heron & Brearley say they still plan to have their usual beer tents you would assume they are going to have the same problems with insurance as the Hooded Ram had.
My own view is that TT2020 is a none starter and has no chance of going ahead. In 2001 they cancelled the TT due to foot and mouth because of the risk to the farming community so the precedent has been set. This time though it’s the Coronavirus and the lives of our old and infirm who are at the risk of death, not sheep and cattle.