This weekend’s IndyCar season opener at St Petersburg will go ahead without fans at the venue amid the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
The local mayor Rick Kriseman said earlier on Thursday that his office was in discussions with IndyCar and the event promoter over whether the Florida-based race would run, having already declared it would be “closed to spectators”.
He called a press conference for 7pm UK time to address the coronavirus threat, and confirmed the event would continue albeit with sanctions on attendance.
Kriseman added: “All public events associated with the grand prix are cancelled as well.”
He urged fans to watch the event on TV.
IndyCar and the event promoter Green Savoree Racing Promotions issued a joint statement after the press conference which confirmed that no on-track action would take place on Friday, and that only “essential personnel” would be able to attend the event.
The statement added: “This protocol is being put in place to protect the health and welfare of the fans, drivers, teams, workers and officials, as we mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”
IndyCar and its support categories will continue on Saturday and Sunday as planned, as it stands.
A host of sporting events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 panic, and the Australian Grand Prix is expected to be one of those. It also is due to take place this weekend.
NASCAR has confirmed its next two events – at Atlanta and Homestead – will be held behind closed doors. The Sebring 12 Hours has also been cancelled, due to take place on March 21.