NASCAR bans fans from displaying Confederate flag at tracks

NASCAR has moved to ban the Confederate flag.

Nearly five years after requesting that fans don’t display the flag at races, NASCAR said Wednesday that it was now prohibiting the display of the flag. NASCAR’s announcement comes two days after Bubba Wallace said the flag should be prohibited from tracks and as protests continue in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis on May 25.

“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” a NASCAR statement said. “Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. the display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”

NASCAR held a moment of silence on Sunday ahead of its Cup Series race at Atlanta and NASCAR president Steve Phelps made a speech recognizing the work to be done to fix racial injustice. Drivers also teamed up to film a video speaking out against racial injustice and inequality.

NASCAR first made request in 2015

After a white supremacist killed nine black people at a church in South Carolina in June of 2015, former NASCAR CEO Brian France said he didn’t want to see the Confederate flag at tracks. NASCAR then asked fans to refrain from displaying the flag and even tried to hold an exchange at the July Daytona race where fans could trade their Confederate flags for American flags.

The request was just that, a request. There were no restrictions on the display of the Confederate flag and, as it was explained at the time, the enforcement logistics of a ban were a hurdle. How were track staffers going to police the infield and ask fans to take their flags down?

Those logistical issues still exist in 2020, even if the moment has changed enough for NASCAR to move from a request to an order. But with limited fan attendance at select races in the near future and normal attendance at races a long way away because of the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR has time to figure out how its tracks will enforce the flag ban instituted on Wednesday.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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