Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) welcomed the largest sporting attendance since the start of the pandemic over the weekend, with 135,000 spectators turning up for the Indy 500.
However, concerns have been raised in certain quarters that only a small proportion of fans appeared to be adhering to guidelines on wearing masks and social distancing at the famous motorsport event.
Images on social media showed few spectators wearing masks during Sunday’s event, while there appeared to be little social distancing inside the venue. IMS had told attendees that they must wear masks at all times, except when eating and drinking, and also said that there should be space between different groups of fans.
IMS officials acknowledged last week that there was a danger of spectators refusing to comply with the rules and, as a result, ‘mask ambassadors’ were deployed to circulate through the stands, holding signs to remind people about the regulations.
Some confusion may have been caused by an announcement on May 13 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outside in most settings two weeks after their final COVID-19 vaccination. However, the CDC allowed individual cities and venues to set stricter rules.
The attendance itself was some 40% of the total official capacity of 300,000, with as many as 350,000 fans having turned up in recent years. All of the available tickets for the event were sold.