Imagine having already bought a ticket to watch your favorite sport/event in the coming months, only to realize that you will not be allowed to watch the spectacle on the day itself.
That is exactly what two speedways in South Dakota did when they held a racing event with no spectators present on the grandstands.
Originally, both the New Raceway Park (NRP) and the Park Jefferson International Speedway (PJIS) were supposed to have spectators set to watch the race. Both race tracks have already sold tickets to fans albeit in a reduced capacity to ensure social distancing measures were in place. NRP only sold a total of 700 tickets even though it's capable of holding 4,000 spectators. Meanwhile, PJIS only sold 500 tickets which is less than one-third of its 1,800 capacity.
Organizers from both NRP and PJIS even set up measures to ensure the safety of the spectators like screening temperature checks for everyone and using cashless forms of transactions.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic still posing a threat in the U.S., especially in mass gathering events such as motorsport events, both race tracks had to ultimately close the track to spectators. To make up for it, both NRP and PJIS had to resort to pay-per-view channels in order for the fans to get a chance to watch the race while inside their homes. Fans that purchased tickets from NRP and PJIS will receive refunds.
According to NRP, they said that they came under pressure from the Governor's Office, county and health officials, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not only that, but they also faced a backlash from the public for deciding to actually hold a race with spectators. As for PJIS, they ultimately decided not to let the fans watch the race after having discussions with the South Dakota Department of Health and other state officials.
To date, the U.S. still has the most number of confirmed cases in the world at about 1 million. They also have the most number of fatalities with almost 57,000. With over 800,000 cases still active in the U.S., it could take quite a while before conditions in the country normalize.