Organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix have cancelled the traditional open pit walk for fans on Thursday morning at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the wake of threats of protests over the race weekend.
The province of Quebec, in which the largest city is Montreal, has been gripped by student protests against a planned tuition fee hike since February and on Saturday street demonstrations in the region took place for the 40th consecutive day. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since the onset of protests with tensions having risen further recently following the government’s passing of a law aimed at restricting the right to protest.
Some protest groups have suggested they might use this week’s F1 race as a platform from which to further air their grievances and that has now prompted race organisers to act, the circuit on Sunday announcing that the ‘open house’ pit lane access that is normally made available to fans on the Thursday of the meeting had now been shelved.
A statement on the circuit’s website read: “With regret, the Grand Prix du Canada announces today the cancellation of the popular ‘’Open Doors’’ day, originally scheduled for the morning of Thursday, June 7. Following a serious examination of the situation, made necessary by public disruption threats and the difficulty to measure their precise validity, the organizers came to the conclusion that it is necessary to restrain the access to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and precisely the F1 pit lane, on the day preceding the first sessions on track.”
Canadian GP president François Dumontier was quoted by the local Montreal Gazette as saying he was “extremely sad” to have had to cancel the free event and apologised to fans who had planned to attend.
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