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Crowdless NASCAR could be the first major U.S. sport to make its return

Live sports could be coming back sooner than we thought.

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR is poised to be the first major U.S. sport to return following coronavirus stay-at-home orders. North Carolina governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that the Coca-Cola 600, scheduled to take place on Memorial Day, will happen without fans unless there is a major downturn in the state’s health conditions.

The race would take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25 without fans in attendance. The announcement comes following a study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) which showed that aggressive social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders in North Carolina will make the state safe to begin returning to normalcy as soon as May 11, one of the first states to safely begin relaxing protocols.

Cooper will allow the race to go ahead as scheduled, unless there is a drastic change in the status of Covid-19 spread in the state. North Carolina currently has 9,674 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and while the state has yet to pass its peak, health officials believe it will be safe to begin relaxing social distancing measures following Cooper’s stay-at-home order, which was extended to May 8 earlier this week.

The Coca-Cola 600 is one of the biggest races on the NASCAR calendar, and would make the first race to occur since the FanShield 500, which took place in Phoenix on March 8.