Indy 500 scraps plans for fans over Covid fears

The Borg Warner trophy for the Indianapolis 500
The Borg Warner trophy for the Indianapolis 500
Chris Graythen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Gett

The organisers of the Indy 500 on Tuesday abandoned plans to allow spectators at this year's race, citing concerns over Covid-19.

A statement from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said the decision had been taken after "extensive consultation with state and city leadership."

"It is with great regret that we announce the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on August 23 without fans," the statement said.

The Indy 500 was criticised by public health experts after initially planning to operate the race at 50 percent capacity, potentially meaning a crowd as large as 175,000.

Those plans were scaled back last month when the circuit said only 25 percent of capacity would be allowed.

However the organisers on Tuesday said worsening coronavirus numbers in the region made spectators a non-starter.

"As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the Covid-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened," the statement said.

"The number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled.

"We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment."

The 104th Indy 500 was originally set for 24 May at the famed two-and-a-half-mile (four kilometers) oval, but the pandemic forced a postponement and shut down the IndyCar season.

Typically, Indianapolis 500 capacity can rise to 350,000 with spectators able to drive in and park on parts of the infield, which also includes garages, seating areas, a museum and part of a golf course.

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