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2020 Indy 500 will be closed to fans

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske calls this "the toughest business decision I've ever made in my life."

Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway can normally hold more than 350,000 spectators.
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
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The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be the first without any spectators. Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske has officially changed his mind about letting fans attend amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according an Associated Press report on Tuesday.

"We didn't buy the Speedway for one year, we bought it for generations to come, and it's important to our reputation to do the right thing," Penske told AP in a phone interview. Penske said the choice to close off the Indy 500 to spectators was "the toughest business decision I've ever made in my life."

Indianapolis Motor Speedway later confirmed this decision via Twitter.

Penske originally wanted to run the Indy 500 without any fans, AP reports, but it was later decided that the event would happen with 50% limited capacity. Then, a few weeks ago, it was announced that attendance would be limited to just 25%, though at a venue the size of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that still allows for some 80,000 people.

A continued increase of COVID-19 cases in and around Indianapolis ultimately led to the decision to shut out all spectators. Last week, IU Health, Indiana's largest health care system, released a statement saying, "we strongly encourage IMA to consider an alternative to running the Indy 500 with fans in August," according to AP.

The Indy 500 usually takes place over Memorial Day weekend, but was postponed to Aug. 23 this year. The decision to prohibit spectator attendance is a smart one, as far as we're concerned, and "is in the best interest of protecting the 500 for the future," Penske said.