The Dubai World Cup meeting is the latest major sporting event to be cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
The landmark 25th running of the $35 million event was scheduled to be held this Saturday but the anniversary celebrations have been postponed until next year.
The World Cup race is held annually at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and last week organisers announced that it would go ahead behind closed doors.
The chairman of the board & CEO of Meydan Group LLC, Saeed Al Tayer, confirmed the news of the cancellation in a statement released on Sunday:
"Due to the ongoing global health implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and precautionary measures being implemented by the UAE government, the organising committee regrets to announce the cancellation of the Dubai World Cup 2020 meeting at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday, March 28."
To safeguard the health of all participants, the higher organising committee of the Dubai World Cup 2020 has decided to postpone 25th edition of the global tournament to next year. pic.twitter.com/hwHfBILqfj
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) March 22, 2020
The feature race has carried a purse of $12 million and for the last two years was won by Thunder Snow (main pic - blue silks), the horse owned by the Maktoum family stable, Godolphin.
Thunder Snow's trainer Saeed Bin Surour understands the decision taken by organisers of the event.
"Obviously this is very disappointing news, but it’s the right decision as the safety of all concerned is of great importance," Bin Surour told Gulf News.
"These are very difficult times and my thoughts are with everyone, not just the racing community, but everyone living in the UAE and also all those who are under the threat of the coronavirus around the world.
"You can rest assured that our leaders and our government are united in their commitment to deal with the situation positively in order to make our country safe as possible for everyone."
Meanwhile racing in Ireland continues albeit behind closed doors.
A seven race card took place at Downpatrick in county Down on Sunday.
The Gearoid O'Loughlin-trained Space Cadet at 25-to-1 was the winner of the feature Randox Ulster National Handicap Chase.