Things are escalating quickly here in the United States. On Wednesday, we went from some sporting events to going on still without a hitch, to banning fans from attending them, to the sport being outright postponed in general.
Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series season opener originally was supposed to go on as planned. On Wednesday, all was status quo in west central Florida in terms of Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete. Mayor Rick Kriseman said that the race is “still a go for Sunday” despite the coronavirus making its way through this planet.
Just this week, two Pinellas County locals were confirmed to have the virus but luckily have had limited contact with any individuals. The St. Pete mayor said that it’s still a very “low risk” in the county of this thing getting out of control before this weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series visit.
The mayor though did urge fans who aren’t feeling 100-percent to be good citizens and to not head to the race weekend in order to keep the virus from spreading further.
“If you don’t feel well, please stay home and watch the race on NBC Sports Network,” Kriseman continued. “As it relates to this race, attendees and residents of the city should know that we are taking every precaution we can to ensure it is a safe experience.”
24 hours later, his tone changed. Kriseman, announced on Thursday morning that the race as of now will go on but without fans in attendance.
“Yesterday, I said the situation regarding the coronavirus was fluid,” Kriseman said this morning. “I said that for a reason. Since yesterday, we’ve learned of a coronavirus case at an open-air event similar to ours, Bike Week. Then, at an EMS conference across the Bay from us, the WHO has since called this a global pandemic. My most important job is public safety and health. It is for that reason that we are canceling general attendance to the Grand Prix of St. Pete. We are working with the promoters and IndyCar and will have more announcements later as to whether the race itself will run.
“I don’t make this decision lightly. I strongly believe life must carry on, as best we are able. But the reality now is that’s just not possible. I am disappointed. I love this race. But, I love this city and our residents more.”
Just a few hours south, Miami officals have already decided to postpone next weekend’s NASCAR weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. While the decision is up to NASCAR on whether to run the race or not, if they do, it will be without fans.
“Miami-Dade County is under a state of emergence as we deal with the public health threat of COVID-19,” Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said on Thursday. “Although we do not have community spread at this time, we want to take the preemptive steps to keep it that way. Therefore, I have decided to suspend the operation of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, the Miami Open tennis tournament, the MIA 5k run, and all major events at the American Airlines Arena. The March 22 NASCAR race at the Homestead Miami Speedway is postponed at this time. NASCAR officials will decide whether or not to hold the race without fans.
“As we move forward together during this time, we will continue to monitor what the World Heath Organization has determined is a global pandemic. We will constantly evaluate planned mass gatherings as the situation evolves.
“I will be making future policy decisions regarding indoor events planned for more than 250 people based on federal and state health officials’ guidance.”