Suzuka 8 Hours cancelled amid Japan travel restrictions

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Suzuka 8 Hours cancelled amid Japan travel restrictions
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The 2020 edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours has been cancelled as a result of continued travel restrictions that would have prevented foreign riders from taking part.

The FIM Endurance World Championship showpiece race had already been moved back from its usual July slot to November as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It had been hoped by the autumn that travel restrictions would have eased sufficiently to allow international riders to travel to Japan, but foreign travellers from over 140 different countries are still barred from entering the country except under exceptional circumstances.

With no let-up to the rules in sight, the decision was made not to run the Suzuka 8h as a purely domestic fixture and to pull the plug on the race for the first time since the inaugural running was held in 1978.

It means the 2019/20 EWC season is now set to conclude with September's Bol d'Or at Paul Ricard, which follows the Le Mans 24 Hours bike race later this month.

Francois Ribeiro, boss of EWC promoter Eurosport Events, said: “We have been working hard with [Suzuka track owner] Mobilityland to reschedule the race from July to November – a first since 1978 – and then to organise entry into Japan for international teams and riders with a special business visa.

"Our hopes have evaporated with immigration restrictions for foreigners. The cancellation of the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours is not a question of spectators’ access. The decision was made not to run this iconic race as a domestic event.

"The Suzuka 8 Hours, the most prestigious endurance race in the world over the last 40 years, shall not run without top international riders.”

Among the international stars due to take part at Suzuka were Kawasaki trio Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores, as well as Yamaha pair Niccolo Canepa and Marvin Fritz.

Rea and then-Kawasaki World Superbike teammate Leon Haslam secured Kawasaki's first Suzuka 8h win since 1993 in last year's race, which ended in controversial style.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team

Photo by: Jun Goto

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About this article

Series FIM Endurance
Author Jamie Klein