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Indy 500 plans 50% capacity for August 23 oval classic

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials said Friday they plan to safely stage the Indianapolis 500 on August 23 with 50% spectator capacity at an event that typically fills 250,000 seats and can pack up to 400,000 people around the famed 2.5-mile oval - Chris Graythen / ©AFP
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials said Friday they plan to safely stage the Indianapolis 500 on August 23 with 50% spectator capacity at an event that typically fills 250,000 seats and can pack up to 400,000 people around the famed 2.5-mile oval - Chris Graythen / ©AFP

(AFP)

Indianapolis 500 officials vowed Friday to safely stage the postponed motorsport classic with 50% spectator capacity at the 250,000-seat Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But there were no exact details on how they planned to handle more than 100,000 people with coronavirus safety protocols.

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The 104th Indy 500 was originally set for May 24 at the famed 2 1/2-mile (4km) oval but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a postponement and shut down the IndyCar season until earlier this month in Texas.

“We’re committed to running the Indy 500 on Sunday, August 23 and will welcome fans to the world’s greatest racing venue,” Speedway president J. Douglas Boles said.

“We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50% of venue capacity and we are also finalizing a number of additional carefully considered health and safety measures.”

Boles did not get into specifics about how the speedway would follow such rules as social distancing and masks with more than 100,000 fans.

Typically, Indy 500 capacity can rise to near 400,000 with spectators able to drive in and park on parts of the infield area, which also include garages, seating areas, a museum and part of a golf course.

“We’ll unveil the specific details of our comprehensive plan in the coming weeks,” Boles said, saying the speedway would remain in touch with public health officials.

An announcement from the speedway said individuals in high-risk groups are “encouraged to consider staying home and returning in 2021.”

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