BERLIN (Reuters) - Horse racing resumes in Germany on Thursday two months after a ban due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a limited number of races in front of empty stands in Hanover and strict health conditions, Germany's racing organisation said.
The handful of races on Thursday are the first for Deutscher Galopp since March and an easing of lockdown restrictions in the past days in Germany with numbers of coronavirus infections dropping. More races are scheduled for Friday in Cologne.
Deutscher Galopp said the races and the preparations for them were tightly controlled by its own health safety plan that limited access to the horses, riders and race areas and required face masks for anyone on or around the track.
Horses will be brought to the race immediately prior to the start time and should be taken away within an hour of the end of racing.
Transport personnel are advised not to leave their vehicles while owners will not have access to their horses.
All races will be streamed live to give racing fans something to cheer about.
"I am very happy that we are able to bring the whole beauty and intensity of the thoroughbreds to all racing fans," said Deutscher Galopp managing director Jan Pommer. "Now it is about racing again."
Sports events have been shut down as the virus has spread around the world.
Some have made a gradual return, such as baseball in South Korea, and others are coming soon with Germany Bundesliga restarting its season this month without spectators.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Alison Williams)