Sports event

135,000 fans gather at Indy 500, marking the biggest sporting event in the world during the pandemic (Photos)

Topline

As more Americans get their shots and celebrate relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, a sold-out crowd of 135,000 gathered at the 105th annual Indianapolis 500 on Sunday for the biggest sporting gathering since the start. of the pandemic, according to the event’s broadcaster, NBC.

Highlights

Brazilian racing driver Hélio Castroneves won the race for a record fourth time, joining three other drivers who achieved the feat: AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest sports facility in the world, worked with the Marion County, Indiana, Public Health Department to determine that the event would be held at 40% capacity, leaving about 100 000 empty grandstand seats.

Masks were required for the event and spectators were asked to socially distance, but officials decided to waive temperature checks at the entrance.

Surprising fact

The presentation of the Indy 500 in 2021 is very different from the empty grandstands of last year’s event, which was pushed back from Memorial Day weekend to late August due to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid pandemic. -19.

Key Context

A slew of sporting events since April have drawn increasingly large crowds as state and federal governments begin to ease their Covid-19 restrictions. Holding the previous record for mid-pandemic gatherings, some 78,000 people attended an annual football match between Collingwood and Essendon of the Australian Football League last month. In the United States, 73,000 fans gathered at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas earlier this month to watch Mexican fighter Canelo Alvarez win a boxing match against previously undefeated Billy Joe Saunders. Despite large sporting crowds, however, there have been larger gatherings for religious and political occasions in India.

Tangent

This year marked the first time in the more than century-long history of the Indy 500 that a predominantly female team entered the race. No woman started the race last year – the first time this has happened in more than two decades.

Further reading

What will the Indy 500 look like during the pandemic? We asked 2016 champion Alex Rossi (Forbes)

The Indy 500 had no female drivers for the first time since 1999 (Forbes)