Two meetings at Compiegne in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of Compiegne and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.
A spokesperson for France Galop said: “This is not a national approach. It is an initiative limited to the municipality of Compiegne.”
Racing professionals will be admitted as normal. The move is the first of its kind for the sport in Europe, but meetings in Japan and Hong Kong have been affected in a similar fashion.
Horses from France are due to run at the Cheltenham Festival, which begins on March 10.
Giving its latest position in relation to coronavirus, the British Horseracing Authority stressed there currently remained “no need to develop a policy” in relation to the abandonment of any specific fixtures.
A statement read: “The industry group continues to liaise closely with government and plan for a range of contingencies.
“We would encourage everyone in racing to focus on the government’s advice on personal health and their advice to employers and businesses. These are the actions that in the view of public health experts are the most important at this stage.
“Speculation about potential actions from government or racing, whilst wholly understandable in the circumstances, may simply distract from the advice on which the population is being asked to focus.
“At present racing continues as usual and the sport remains in agreement that there is no need to develop a policy regarding abandonment of any specific fixtures due to coronavirus at this time.
“We will continue to speak to government and should a situation arise where this is required then the sport has established mechanisms in place for handling such scenarios.”
Some major sporting events have already been affected with Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy called off and the Chinese Grand Prix, which was supposed to take place in April, already cancelled.
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