Indianapolis Motor Speedway has once again reversed course and declared that the Indianapolis 500 held on Aug. 23 will occur without fans in the stands due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
In a prepared statement, IMS said:
“It is with great regret that we announce the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Aug. 23 without fans. This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership.
“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. Since our June 26 announcement, 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 statement added:
“Our commitment to the Speedway is unwavering, and we will continue to invest in the Racing Capital of the World. We encourage everyone to watch this year’s race on NBC, and we look forward to welcoming our loyal fans back to ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ on May 30th of 2021.”
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), the 104th running of the Indy 500 will be the first held behind closed doors and without spectators.
Per the AP, IU Health requested last week for "an alternative to running the Indy 500 with fans in August" due to coronavirus concerns.
"We have concerns about the risks of infection beyond the scope of the IMS plan, including social gatherings, travel, restaurants, bars, accommodations and other event-related activities," IU Health said at that time. "This could lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections as we continue to see cases and hospitalizations increase every day."