NASCAR and IndyCar reversed course Friday and pulled the plug on racing this weekend. IndyCar is suspending its season through the end of April due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic; NASCAR called off Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next weekend’s events at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both events already were scheduled to be run without spectators.
IndyCar was scheduled to open its season Sunday on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, without fans. Formula One also canceled its season-opening race in Australia.
Mark Miles, president and CEO of IndyCar parent company Penske Enterprises, said the about-face came as both IndyCar and NASCAR saw more and more events and attractions closing.
“There’s a public health risk any time people are getting together,” Miles said. “Really, there isn’t a sporting event left that feels comfortable running even without fans."
Miles said the Grand Prix of Long Beach, scheduled for April 19, was officially canceled.
It is unknown what will happen to races in Birmingham, Alabama, and at Circuit of the Americas in Texas, two of the four April races canceled Friday by IndyCar.
“From our perspective, our hope, our ambition, our plan is to restart in May and to get in as much of a season as we can,” Miles said.
If IndyCar resumes in May, the season would first begin at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a race on the road course and then the showcase Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend.
More suspensions and cancellations were widespread across the sports world.
The United State Tennis Association announced it has suspended all of its sanctioned events including the USTA Pro Circuit, adult and junior tournaments, league tennis and several other programs. The suspension is in effect through April 20. The USTA will try to reschedule, if possible.
The USTA will continue to monitor and assess conditions to make future determinations about events and activities taking place after April 20.
"Our plans for the 2020 U.S. Open remain ongoing," said Chris Widmaier, the USTA's director of corporate communications. "But of course we will be continually monitoring this fast changing situation."
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows and the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Florida will remain open to the general public for play and some instruction.
All group activities will be limited in the number of participants. Additionally, the fitness facilities, showers and food service at both facilities will be closed.
The New York Road Runners announced it will cancel all in-person NYRR events for the next 30 days. This includes two upcoming race events in Central Park, the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K on March 28 and Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4M on April 5.
The English Premier League and UEFA's Champions League were both suspended Friday.
Matches in England will be stopped until at least April 3 after five Premier League clubs said some players or staff were in self-isolation. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the virus, as has Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.
“I had the virus for the last couple of days, which I’ve recovered from,” Hudson-Odoi said in a video posted on social media.