French Pandemic Rules Could Mean Restricted Arc Crowds

French limits on public meetings could mean restricting this year’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to 5,000 guests.

Race organisers France Galop had hoped the event would receive the green light from the Paris police and city authorities to host 15,000-20,000 people with social distancing measures in place, according to the Racing Post.

Government guidelines, however, note that localities with increased levels of COVID-19 infections will not be allowed to apply for such exemptions from the 5,000 person limit on public gatherings.

Olivier Delloye, chief executive of France Galop said: “We have not received authorisation from the Paris police prefecture to have more than 5,000 people. As we feared might happen Paris has become one of the red zones in terms of the circulation of the virus and the prefects are no longer allowed to consider any exemption.

“We are now planning for an Arc with 5,000 people at Longchamp. Unfortunately that number means no admission to the general public and it will be an Arc limited to the staff working at the racecourse, as well as trainers, owners and breeders with runners and limited entourages.

“There is a tiny hope that in the coming weeks we might be allowed to add a separate watertight zone on the racecourse for another 5,000 people. I think the chances are extremely thin that we will be allowed to do that but we have to hold out hope. In reality, it looks like an Arc with only 5,000 people.”

On Wednesday, a decision was made to go ahead with plans to stage a ‘industry-only’ Arc, meaning that only the media, owners, trainers and other racing professionals would attend.

The French government divided various regions of the country into red and green zones earlier this year – red being allocated to areas highly infected by the coronavirus.

France Galop was then forced to reorganise its fixture list and reschedule meetings at alternative venues. It was proposed at the time that races could return to their original positions once some areas on the government’s coronavirus map greened.