Kentucky Derby to be held without fans
© Getty Images

The Kentucky Derby will be held without fans this year, reversing an earlier decision from June that would have allowed spectators at the yearly race.

Churchill Downs Incorporated, which runs the derby, said it had hoped to allow a limited number of fans to attend the race but that recent spikes in coronavirus cases in Louisville and the broader region had rendered that plan unsafe.

“We have made the difficult decision to hold this year’s Kentucky Derby on September 5 without fans. Churchill Downs and all of our team members feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility as citizens of Louisville to do all we responsibly can to protect the health, safety and security of our community in these challenging times and believe that running the Derby without spectators is the best way to do that,” it said in a statement

ADVERTISEMENT

The state of Kentucky has seen a surge of cases from July to August, reporting over 1,000 new cases on Thursday, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) praised the decision, saying it was the “right and responsible decision.”

“The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases. This week alone the county had more than 2,300 new cases,” he said. “I am asking all Kentuckians to take action to stop the spread of the virus so we can get back to the many traditions we enjoy, like the Kentucky Derby.”

The decision to hold the race without fans comes almost two months after Churchill Downs said it would hold the event with “reduced capacities.” The event typically includes 60,000 reserved seats.