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Sport

Australia's Bathurst 1000 to go ahead with limited crowd

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s most iconic motor race, the Bathurst 1000, will go ahead at the Mount Panorama Circuit next month but the crowd will be limited to 4,000 fans per day, organisers said on Friday.

“The Great Race” usually attracts some 200,000 car enthusiasts to the inland city about 200km from Sydney, the vast majority setting up camp around the circuit for the touring car classic.

Social isolation rules put in place to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus had raised some doubt over whether any crowd would be allowed over this year’s four-day race weekend, which takes place from Oct. 15-18.

“Whilst we are disappointed that we can’t have a full crowd at Bathurst, we’re delighted to offer even limited attendance,” Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer said in a statement.

“A racetrack like Mount Panorama is not as easy as a stadium to prepare in a COVID-19 compliant way due to the lack of dedicated seating.

“We understand a number of fans will be disappointed that camping (is) not available this year, however the safety of everyone attending the event is our main concern at all times.”

New South Wales has been relatively successful in containing the virus with an average of around five new cases a day over the last couple of weeks, mostly arrivals from overseas or from known clusters around the state.

The state government on Thursday said big stadiums in Sydney would be able to operate at 50% capacity up to a maximum of 40,000 fans from Oct. 1.

There will be keener interest in the 161-lap, 1,000.293km Bathurst race this year as it will also be the final round of the 24th season of the Supercars championship.

The coronavirus outbreak forced the cancellation of the Melbourne 400, which was scheduled to take place on the Formula One weekend at Albert Park in mid-March, as well as the Launceston, Auckland and Perth rounds.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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