With little more than two months before the inaugural Kazakhstan Grand Prix, MotoGP abruptly canceled the race on April 26, 2023. The country’s Sokol International Racetrack previously stood to become the 74th venue to hold a Grand Prix since 1949. As the ninth round of the 2023 season and the first race following the series’ customary summer break, the Kazakhstan GP was originally scheduled for July 7-9, 2023.

Instead, MotoGP will scrap the landmark round from its 2023 calendar. Schedule coordinators won’t replace the race either, reducing the total number of 2023 Grands Prix to 20. The organization cites “ongoing homologation works at the circuit, paired with current global operational challenges” as reasons for removing the Kazakhstan GP. In all fairness, organizing body Dorna Sports did denote that the round still hinged on contract negotiations and homologation efforts in its Provisional 2023 MotoGP calendar.

As summer swiftly approaches, the series opted to abandon regulatory endeavors of the 2.8-mile, 13-corner circuit. Sadly, Kazakhstan won’t go down as the 30th nation to host a Grand Prix motorcycle race in 2023, but we’re hopeful the country returns to the schedule in 2024. That may depend on geopolitical factors, however.

As MotoGP’s statement notes, “current global operational challenges” also influenced its ultimate decision. We can only assume that the assertion alludes to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. According to the World Bank, Kazakhstan and its corporations continue to maintain strong trade ties with Russia.

As a response to Kazakhstan potentially helping Russia skirt its war-related sanctions, Elizabeth Rosenberg, the United States Treasury Department assistant secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, warned of possible secondary sanctions on Kazakh companies at a roundtable in Astana, Kazakhstan, on April 25, 2023.

Such tense relations could have contributed to the “current global operational challenges” mentioned in MotoGP’s announcement. However, the release remains hopeful, revealing that the series “looks forward to visiting Sokol International Racetrack in 2024.”

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