Following the escalation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Isle of Man Government took the decision on Monday 16th March to cancel TT2020 as part of measures to protect the population against the virus.
The early decision, made ahead of official directives from the UK Government, has been widely praised but has nevertheless disappointed race fans and competitors alike.
Writing in his weekly column in MCN, 23-time TT Race winner John McGuinness said: “I’m gutted, I’m so deflated. I had a great opportunity with a great team this year and the announcement is such a disappointment.”
“But that’s absolutely insignificant because people are losing their lives to this virus and, right now, we need everyone to pull together.”
James Hillier, who has been lauded for using his motorcycle accessories business to provide relief to those affected by the outbreak, said his thoughts were with those likely to be worst hit by the cancellation.
Speaking with Bike Sport News, Hillier said: “My thoughts are with the businesses on the Isle of Man that will be affected – the guest houses, the little tea rooms – and how they’ll manage with such a major loss of income.”
Like McGuinness, he too was keen to point out the triviality of racing in comparison to the global pandemic adding, “we can go back and have another go in 2021.”
Hillier was due to ride with the OMG Racing team who were working hard in preparation for their TT debut. In an official team statement on their social media channels, the team said: “Naturally, we’re gutted. This was to be our first ever Isle of Man TT and we share the disappointment of motorcycle fans, but the safety of the teams, fans, media and residents of the Isle of Man remains the absolute priority.”
The Honda Racing team echoed this sentiment, issuing a statement that said: “We fully support the decision from the Isle of Man Government to cancel the 2020 Isle of Man TT Races. The health and well-being of our team, as well as our fellow teams, the fans and everyone else involved in road racing is the main priority.”
Glenn Irwin, who was making his TT debut with the Honda Racing team in 2020 added: “[I’m] fully supportive of today’s decision – thoughts to everyone affected by the Coronavirus. Let’s all pull together and be kind throughout this.”
Meanwhile, TT veteran Michael Rutter, who is one of a handful of competitors to have also been affected by the 2001 cancellation caused by Foot and Mouth disease in the UK, was able to bring a light-hearted response to the disappointing news.
Speaking to Bike Sport News, the 7-time TT Race winner said: “Us motorcyclists aren’t very good at keeping Nobles Hospital empty and all of the medical facilities on the Island need to be going towards people affected by the virus.”
While there will be no racing on the Isle of Man this June, the global situation continues to be monitored as work continues towards the successful delivery of the Classic TT presented by Bennetts due to begin on 22nd August 2020.