More fans in the stands is always a good sign.
On April 2, 2021, Endurance World Championship (EWC) organizers canceled the Le Mans 24 Hour Moto opening round due to France’s rising COVID-19 cases. Luckily, French officials and EWC were able to reschedule the event for June 12-13, 2021, but sans fans. It was the same story for the 2021 French Grand Prix, as MotoGP held the event at Le Mans without spectators.
However, French authorities lifted the latest lockdown on May 3, 2021, due to a reduction in caseload. Restrictions rolled back further when the national curfew was extended by two hours and many shops opened their doors again on May 19, 2021. With the country inching closer to normalcy, the French Motorcycling Federation (FFM) released its Deconfinement Table, laying out a plan to return riders and fans to the racetrack.
Under the FFM’s guidelines, closed-circuit races won’t limit the number of riders regardless of amateur or professional status. As for the audience, facilities can only welcome 35 percent of seating capacity or up to 1,000 attendees. By June 9, 2021, spectator restrictions will loosen to 65% of capacity, but limited to 5,000 people. In the final stage, local Prefects will determine attendance limits from June 30, 2021, onwards. However, at each phase in the FFM’s Deconfinement Table, organizers will have to implement a health check of attendees.
For competitions held on public roads, the FFM limits participation to 50 people, but organizers can arrange competitors in waves. The participant cap will rise to 500 on June 9, 2021, and 2,500 on June 30, 2021. The FFM’s plan also coincides with France’s curfew rollback, which will extend to 11 p.m. on June 9, 2021, and finally lift on June 30, 2021.
While the new guidelines are encouraging for upcoming races, the Le Mans 24 Hour Moto hasn’t announced whether it will welcome fans under the FFM plan. Whether we’re on our couches or in the stands, we’ll still enjoy the race, but it’s a relief to see France recovering so soon.