IndyCar opener to run without spectators due to coronavirus

Image: Anatoliy Cherkasov / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Image: Anatoliy Cherkasov / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Spectators were banned from IndyCar's 2020 season-opening race Sunday at St. Petersburg, Florida, by the city's mayor due to growing fears over the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

On-track activity was trimmed to Saturday and Sunday, when the 100-lap feature will be staged before empty grandstands along on a 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course circuit through downtown St. Petersburg.

Not a light decision

Mayor Rick Kriseman tweeted: "My most important job is public safety and health. It is for that reason that we are cancelling general attendance at the (race). I don't make this decision lightly. I strongly believe life must carry on, as best we are able. But the reality now is that's just not possible. I am disappointed. I love this race. But I love this city and our residents more."

A 26-car field is set to compete with American Josef Newgarden hoping to repeat as champion in the launch to a 17-race campaign.

IndyCar said in a statement: "All activities surrounding Sunday's season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be closed to spectators and limited to essential personnel only."

While organizers were planning to go ahead in St. Petersburg, organizers of the Grand Prix of Long Beach said Thursday they were cancelling the event, scheduled for the weekend of April 17-19.

Local organizers made the move after the City of Long Beach prohibited large-scale events in the city through April 30.

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