Sports fans will soon get a reprieve from the deprivation they’ve faced for weeks. NASCAR and UFC are two of the first major sports organizations to resume operations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and will see events get back underway this month.
NASCAR will return to the track on May 17 after a two-month hiatus with a 400-mile Cup Series race held at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway. It will kick off a seven-race series scheduled for the remainder of the month at both Darlington and Charlotte Motor Speedway. All races will be televised but be staged without fans in attendance to ensure maximum health and safety of all involved.
“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” stated Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track.”
Drivers and personnel will resume with modifications in line with recommendations from health experts, including health screenings prior to entering the venue, wearing proper protective equipment and maintaining social distancing. NASCAR has not revealed any races scheduled past May 27 but officials intend to hold a full 36-race NASCAR Cup Series this year.
UFC officials are also prepping for the return of ultimate fighting matches. Fights are scheduled to occur May 9, 13 and 16 in Jacksonville with officials outlining the proper protocol UFC is taking to put on these events. As previously mentioned, fans will not be allowed into the venue. Fighters will receive daily medical screenings and be granted access to an individual workout room with mats, a personal sauna and sanitizer. Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will host the closed-door events.