COVID forces inaugural Extreme E season to be delayed again

The first round of the inaugural Extreme E season has been delayed by two weeks in response to the global health crisis

COVID forces inaugural Extreme E season to be delayed again

A maiden event in Saudi Arabia had been planned for 20-21 March, but the championship has now issued a revised calendar confirming a 3-4 April slot for the Desert X-Prix in Alula.

XE founder Alejandro Agag told Reuters: "We are quite optimistic that we are going to keep the date, 99% sure of it but never say never with this COVID situation.

"The fact that the Dakar takes place in Saudi has given us a lot of confidence.

"Hopefully by April things will look a bit better but we've been saying that for months and this virus is pretty sticky."

The 12-day Dakar Rally, also in Saudi Arabia, has been able to take place this month courtesy, in part, of the introduction of a 'bubble', with XE expected to employ a similar set-up.

Meanwhile, Formula E has confirmed that its first-ever night races will go ahead on 26-27 February in Saudi to become the opening round of the season after the Chile double-header was postponed in response to the detection of a new and fast-spreading COVID variant in the UK.

This is the second time the first round of the 2021 XE season has been postponed.

"The decision was originally taken to avoid any overlap with Formula One's season-opener, which was scheduled for March 21 but was postponed on Tuesday, and the only delay in not communicating this change earlier was due to the series wanting to ensure no other calendar updates were required in response to COVID-19," said an Extreme E statement.

The first draft of the calendar initially proposed a Senegal event across 23-24 January but amid the disruption caused by COVID, it was pushed back to 29-30 May.

This was followed by Nepal falling off the schedule altogether due to the "complexity of getting to the proposed race region", although organisers have committed to a future round in the country.

An Argentina event was added in the place of Nepal, occupying the 11-12 December weekend to become the season finale in place of Brazil - which moved to 23-24 October.

XE announced earlier this week it had secured a one-year deal with Sky Sports to have the final race broadcast live in addition to the online streams that the BBC will provide.

These races are set to be shown on the Sunday of each event between 1500-1700 GMT.

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