July 22 (Reuters) - Mandatory masks and temperature screenings are among the many COVID-19 safety measures that will be in place at next month’s Indianapolis 500, where capacity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be limited to 25%, organisers said on Wednesday.
As a result of social distancing requirements, capacity at the sprawling venue — large enough to hold Vatican City, Yankee Stadium, Churchill Downs, the Roman Colosseum and Rose Bowl — will be cut to about 87,500 for the race on Aug. 23.
“We believe it’s important we have a race, that we have this race, to set a high standard and example for how people can come together today under the right procedures,” Mark Miles, chief executive of the company that runs IndyCar and the IMS, said on a conference call.
“We’re reengineering the way we function in a new normal. In everything we do today, there are risks. But shutting down again creates detrimental health effects and affects the livelihood of (locals) as well.”
The Indianapolis 500, which is the crown jewel of American open-wheel racing, was originally scheduled to run this year on May 24 but was postponed because of the virus.
Officials of the International Motor Speedway on Wednesday unveiled a detailed 88-page safety plan for the race that will have seats reassigned to meet social distancing requirements.
Among the other safety measures in place will be the removal of drinking fountains and misting stations, elimination of extra events like concerts while food options at concession stands will be mostly pre-packaged items.
Everyone who enters the IMS on race day will receive a protective facemask, and guest services personnel throughout the speedway will be reminding people to wear them.
While wearing protective masks has become a polarizing issue in the United States, Miles said individuals not complying with the safety measure could be removed.
“If it’s appropriate we will be prepared to ask people to leave,” said Miles. “I hope we don’t have to do that but we definitely are prepared to do that if people aren’t willing to comply with what we believe is a reasonable requirement.” (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Toby Davis)