The World Health Organisation has come out and called Covid-19 (coronavirus) a pandemic and advised people NOT to gather in large numbers at concerts and sporting events.
So much so, lots of things are being cancelled and even the Olympics is up in the air.
So too now, this year’s Kentucky Derby.
The Ky Derby Festival CEO, Matt Gibson, along with the Mayor of Kentucky, are repeatedly saying when repeatedly questioned, “well, we’ll just see how this things bears out.
“We still have 4 weeks to go.” But the reality is, every day the news is worse. And this week things shifted horribly in the wrong direction, yet again. Today, 6 people in Kentucky are reported as getting the coronavirus which has sent shockwaves to the Derby organisers.
But, this hysteria isn’t a one off.
The Kentucky Derby did run in 1918, the year a deadly flu pandemic hit the Commonwealth.
And, despite the walls closing in on the great race this year, all the rhetoric about suggests it’s unlikely the Derby itself will be canceled outright, particularly due to television contracts.
But, it’s HIGHLY possible the Derby could run without spectators on track this year.
Officials are hoping that Derby day this year will compare to a bad weather year, and with that, they’ve speculated that up to 10% of in-person spectators probably will cancel.
That would translate to a loss of about US$40 million tied to the Derby and Oaks alone. That would naturally impact Churchill Downs and hotels the most, with ancillary vendors like restaurants and transit providers taking big hits as well.
In a normal year, the state of Kentucky would expect to net around US$390 million from the tourism that comes streaming in for Derby week.
But with the virus being so virulent, well the fear of its virulence being so out there, along with the newly discovered drug issues in New York and California where last year’s Ky Derby’s first past the post Maximum Security’s trainer is embroiled, the sport and attendance is set to take its worst battering yet.
And….hanging like a cudgel over the race’s head this year – if any one of the 6 people who have contracted the coronavirus in Kentucky this week die, there may very well be a Kentucky Derby void of spectators on track this year.