Formula E postpones Chile races in January due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) - Formula E's season-opening double header scheduled to take place in Santiago, Chile on Jan. 16-17 was postponed on Tuesday after the country closed its borders with the United Kingdom.

Chile joined much of the world in shutting out Britain after a significantly more transmissible mutated coronavirus variant was discovered spreading swiftly across southern England.

A number of Formula E teams are based in the UK and would not have been able to travel to Chile for the races.

"In consultation with the Santiago municipality, the decision was taken to postpone the Santiago E-Prix," Formula E said in a statement.

"The races will no longer take place as a double-header on January 16 and 17 and we are working with the city to finalise dates on which to stage the races later in Q1 of 2021."

The new dates are expected to be announced in January.

In October, Formula E postponed races scheduled for next year in Mexico and China. Mexico City had been due to host the second round of season seven on Feb. 13 with the Chinese resort of Sanya pencilled in for March 13.

While Formula One completed 17 races in the 2020 season with strict restrictions in force at race tracks across Europe and the Middle East, Formula E has found it difficult to organise races on street circuits in cities.

Earlier this year, Formula E held six races in nine days at Berlin's former Tempelhof airport in order to finish the season after numerous street circuit races were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The 2020-21 season is set to be Formula E's first as an FIA-recognised championship.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)