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Indianapolis 500 will now be held without spectators after IMS reverses course

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The Indianapolis 500 will now be staged without spectators for the first time in the iconic race’s 109-year history amid growing concerns over the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The move was made just a few weeks after Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that the rescheduled showpiece NTT IndyCar Series race on August 23 would have grandstands filled to 25 per cent of capacity, itself a readjustment of an earlier plan to cap fans at 50 per cent of seating.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, can hold approximately 350,000 fans.

“We need to be safe and smart about this,” IMS and IndyCar series owner Roger Penske told the Associated Press. “Obviously we want full attendance, but we don’t want to jeopardize the health and safety of our fans and the community. We also don’t want to jeopardize the ability to hold a successful race.”

Penske had said in June that the Indianapolis 500 would only be held this year if fans were admitted.

He added: “We didn’t buy the Speedway for one year, we bought it for generations to come, and it’s important to our reputation to do the right thing.”