Photo: IMG / BSI

According to former Italian driver Armando Castagna, chief speedway manager of the international motorcycle union FIM, there are still people in the international speedway environment who do not understand the serious threat that this week paralyzes all sports activity around the world. Castagna sits even in northern Italy, where over 6,000 people have died.

By Ib Søby

In a recent interview with Polish TV station Canal +, 56-year-old Armando Castagna speaks in large letters to individual drivers and teams who have been seen as "smugly trained" despite the national orders and austerity measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In recent days, the Polish press has shown photos of drivers in training, where 15-20 people, including mechanics, friends and individual press people, have gathered. For example, it has sparked heated debate that Piotr Pawlicki has published training photos from a private track, while the vast majority of drivers in the speedway-loving country are placed in "house arrest" - as are large sections of the population across Europe.

- I try to understand the young drivers who say that it is the media that causes mass hysteria and exaggerates coronavirus, but I am from Italy and this is really very serious. This is a major epidemic and a deadly disease. Not only older people, but younger people also have a problem. 

- We have people in Italy of 35-40 years who have also died.

Armando Castagna points out that many Italians initially rejected the threat of coronavirus. 

- Many people in Italy did not listen to the government's recommendations and used the extra leisure time to go out. They were still partying and large Italian families were eating together. That is why Italy is now paying a high price and I really hope that other countries will handle the situation better than we did.

Castagna is currently even under severe isolation. 

- We lose many relatives and friends. It's a nasty disaster. We had a lot of friends in Milan, Bergamo or other cities and they are dead. We can't even say goodbye to those who get sick and die. Funerals are prohibited and funerals are made in piles of hired contractors.

From his residence, the FIM boss works almost 24 hours a day, spending hours communicating via Skype or telephone to find out how the world's speedway countries are responding to the crisis and how it could impact the 2020 season.   

In the conversation with Canal +, Armando Castagna says that he is in ongoing dialogue with BSI / IMG about the Grand Prix series and Speedway of Nations.

- We analyze all possibilities and we are also in contact with a number of countries around qualification rounds and U21 events. I still think we can accomplish something of a speedway season, but it can't help but make significant changes to the original season calendar, Armando Castagna concludes.

In his active career, Armando Castagna ran - with great success - for several clubs in England and Poland. Five times he qualified for the World Cup finals, and in 1990 he finished number eight at Odsal Stadium in Bradford as the best result. Castagna also ran two Par-World Cup finals and finished number seven and eight, respectively.

In 2013, Armando Castagna became the head of speedway during FIM, replacing Norwegian Roy Otto.

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