The Automobile Club de l’Ouest and Sarthe Prefecture have confirmed that this year’s edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held behind closed doors.
Spectators will not be allowed trackside for the 88th running of the famous endurance event, which is taking place on Sept. 19-20 after being postponed from its original mid-June date due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, plans were drawn up for spectator access to be controlled through the creation of ‘fan villages’, but in-person attendance has now been scrapped altogether.
The decision comes after consultation between the ACO, the Sarthe region and public health authorities against the backdrop of the evolving COVID-19 situation in France, which in recent weeks has recorded an increase in coronavirus case numbers.
ACO president Pierre Fillon explained that there were “too many question marks” over health and safety for the event to go ahead with fans in attendance at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
“The 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans will go down in the annals of history as, sadly, the world’s greatest endurance race will be run this year with no spectators trackside,” he said.
“Over the last few weeks, we have looked at many ways in which we could hold our event in September with fans present, albeit in limited numbers.
“However, given the constraints involved in organizing a festival-scale event over several days in the current situation, we have opted with the local government authorities to hold the race behind closed doors.”
The ACO has confirmed that ticket holders will be contacted regarding their bookings, while fans will be given options to follow the race remotely through digital means.
“We know that our fans will be as disappointed as we are by this decision but, with public health in the balance, it really wasn’t a difficult call to make,” added Fillon.
“You don’t compromise where safety is concerned. Fans will not miss out altogether. They may not be at Le Mans, but our media teams and service providers will bring Le Mans to them. We are sure that we can count on everyone’s support and understanding at this time.”