Coronavirus: Indy 500 to go on without fans

INDIANAPOLIS — Organizers announced the Indianapolis 500 will go on without fans present later this month, reversing an earlier decision to allow a limited number of spectators to watch “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” live.

"It is with great regret that we announce the Indianapolis 500 will take place on August 23 without fans," officials with Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Tuesday in a statement. "This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership."

The decision was made as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise nationwide.

The race had been postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Aug. 23 due to the threat posed by the coronavirus. Organizers limited fan capacity for the race to 50% and then 25% before Tuesday's announcement.

"We said from the beginning of the pandemic (that) we would put the health (and) safety of our community first," organizers said Tuesday. "We encourage Hoosiers to continue making smart decisions and following the advice of our public health officials so we can help get Indiana back on track."

The president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp., the company that owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, previously said that people who bought tickets for this year's event would be offered credits in exchange for their tickets.

As of Monday, the last date for which data was available, more than 69,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across Indiana, resulting in 2,794 deaths, according to health officials.

The United States leads the world with the most coronavirus cases and the highest death toll. Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 4.7 million infections and reported more than 155,000 deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday, more than 18.3 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide and more than 695,000 people have died of the viral infection, according to Johns Hopkins.