Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to take place without spectators due to COVID-19 outbreak

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Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season-opening race, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, will go ahead this weekend with no spectators due to the outbreak of COVID-19; more commonly known as Coronavirus. The decision was announced in the last hour by the Mayor Kriseman of St. Petersburg in conjunction with the IndyCar Series CEO, Mark Miles. IndyCar on-track activity will also be condensed into just Saturday and Sunday.

The world of Motorsport has been greatly affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. Formula 1, MotoGP, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Formula E and NASCAR have all had events impacted by the outbreak, with the organisers of each series making decisions to either run races behind closed doors or to cancel the events in their entirety.

In the last few hours, it emerged that the IndyCar season-opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, was also at risk of being cancelled due to the virus after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed at an open-air event in the city. However, after discussions between the race organisers, the decision has been made that the race will go ahead with the sad, but necessary, compromise of not allowing fans to spectate the race in person.

A press conference was held in St. Petersburg within the last hour to confirm that the race will go ahead. Shortly afterwards, a statement was released by the IndyCar series in conjunction with Green Savoree Racing Promotions:

“INDYCAR and Green Savoree Racing Promotions, in conjunction with the city of St. Petersburg, announced Thursday that all activities surrounding Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be closed to spectators and limited to essential personnel only,” the statement read. “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.

The race weekend will operate from Friday through Sunday, with INDYCAR on-track sessions limited to Saturday and Sunday. The activities also include Road To Indy, IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup, and SRO Motorsports Group America on a condensed schedule. A press release with full details, including a revised schedule, will be issued with additional details later today.”

The race will still be televised as planned, but obviously the news today will come as a massive disappointment to the legions of IndyCar fans that made the trip to St. Petersburg to watch the 2020 season-opener. However, the decision by the race organisers will not have been taken lightly. The most important thing for the organisers would have been to ensure the safety of anybody and everybody attending the event.

It is not yet known how the COVID-19 outbreak could continue to affect the NTT IndyCar Series in the coming few months. Further updates will be provided when available.

The 2020 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place this Sunday, March 15. Catch up with everything you need to know ahead of the NTT IndyCar Series season-opener by checkout out our 2020 season preview and our St. Petersburg preview.

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Reporter from the East of England. Covering the NTT IndyCar Series for The Checkered Flag. Also an eSports racing driver on iRacing.
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