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Tokyo marathon cancels mass race over coronavirus scare

March race will be restricted to elite runners
News raises more concerns over Tokyo Olympics
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Runners, some wearing masks, compete on Sunday in a marathon in Kumamoto city, western Japan.
 
Feb 17, 2020
The mass participation race at the Tokyo marathon, which was expected to have 38,000 people taking part, has become the latest sporting casualty of the coronavirus. In a statement organisers confirmed the event on 1 March will now be limited to the elite field of 176 athletes and 30 wheelchair athletes.
“We have been preparing for the Tokyo marathon 2020 while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that a case of Covid‑19 [coronavirus] has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated,” they said.
Organisers said that all registered runners would be allowed to defer their entry until next year. But they would have to pay again and would also not get their money back from this year’s race. One British runner who had entered the race told the Guardian that she understood the decision but from a personal and financial perspective it was hard to take 13 days before the race.
“My husband Max and I had been planning to run the Tokyo marathon for over two years so to hear this news is gutting,” said Sarah Dudgeon, who had been hoping to run the race in under three hours.
“We understand and respect the decision but you can’t helping feeling the personal ramifications. We had trained hard through the winter and were hoping this would be the running holiday of a lifetime. As things stand, we don’t know whether the £3,000 we have paid for flights and hotels will be refunded if we decide to run the race next year.”
Last week organisers had sounded confident the event would go ahead, announcing plans to distribute surgical masks to runners and volunteers as part of preventive safety measures against the virus. They had also told the 1,800 runners from China they could defer their entry until 2021 without any penalty.
However, the continuing spread of the virus meant on Monday they had little choice but to take the drastic step of limiting the race – which doubles up as an Olympic trial for Japanese marathon runners – to just over 200 participants.
The news is bound to raise more concerns about whether the virus could disrupt the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are due to start on 24 July. So far there have been more than 70,000 cases in China, with 1,770 deaths. Last week senior officials at the International Olympic Committee insisted there was no plan B to reschedule the Games.
“There’s no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the Games or moving the Games,” John Coates, the head of an IOC inspection team, said. He added the World Health Organisation had advised him that a back-up plan was not necessary and that the Games remain “on track”.
Other experts have warned that the coronavirus-related health risks to Japan are hard to predict. “There is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that,” said Shigeru Omi, a former regional director of the WHO.
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The Olympic rings are displayed in front of the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo.
 
The Tokyo marathon is the biggest sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus. In the past month the World Indoor Championships, due to take place in Nanjing, China in March, were cancelled along with the Shanghai Formula One Grand Prix.
Other sporting events to have been called off or postponed in recent months because of the virus include the Hong Kong Sevens international rugby tournament, the annual Singapore Yacht Show and almost all sports in China.
The London marathon said the situation for the race in April remained unchanged. Hugh Brasher, the event director, said: “We, along with the rest of the world, are monitoring closely the developments relating to the spread of coronavirus and noting the updates and advice given by the UK government, the World Health Organisation and other public bodies. With more than two months to go before the event on Sunday 26 April, we will continue to monitor the situation. We will keep our deferment policy under review as the situation evolves.”
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Runners compete in the 2019 edition of the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2019. Organizers on Monday announced that only elite runners will participate in the 2020 race due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tokyo Marathon canceled for 38,000 runners over COVID-19 fears
Feb 17, 2020
As Japan ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the largest sporting events in the nation will be curtailed, with participation in the Tokyo Marathon limited to elite runners and wheelchair competitors, organizers said Monday.
Thousands of runners will no longer be able to participate in the event next month due to growing fears over a domestic outbreak of COVID-19.
 
The decision to eliminate general participation in the largest marathon in Asia emerged amid growing debate surrounding Tokyo’s preparations to host the 2020 Olympic Games in July despite the ongoing viral outbreak.
The Tokyo Marathon, which is slated for March 1, follows a roughly 42-km route that starts at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku and finishes at Tokyo Station.
Thirty-eight-thousand runners were set to run in the Tokyo Marathon this year. Participation will be drastically reduced by barring general participants to prevent further spread of the virus. Roughly 200 elite runners will participate in the marathon, which doubles as a qualifying race for the 2020 Games.
Marathon organizers had formed a panel of medical experts in January to devise safety measures as well as ways to prevent further spreading of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday, organizers asked Chinese residents to defer entry to this year’s marathon due to concern of the virus, which is thought to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Runners were told they would automatically qualify for next year’s marathon if they complied.
Deferred entry was offered to more than 1,800 runners of various nationalities based in China, where, as of Monday, the coronavirus has caused nearly 1,800 deaths and infected more than 70,000 individuals.
The outbreak has led to the cancelation or relocation of sporting events around the world. In January, the International Olympic Committee relocated the Tokyo 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying tournament for the Asian and Oceanic region, which was originally scheduled to take place Feb. 3-14, to the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Olympic women’s soccer qualifying slated for Feb. 3-9 was moved from Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, to Australia, while Asian Champions League games involving Chinese clubs, including several scheduled to take place in Japan, have been pushed back to April and May.
Formula One’s Shanghai Grand Prix, originally scheduled for Apr. 19, has also been postponed.
Despite growing concerns that the novel coronavirus might impact the 2020 Olympics, organizers insist the game will go on.
After saying he was “seriously worried” the virus could dampen hype for the 2020 Games earlier this month, Yoshiro Muto, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee, backtracked and said cancelation or postponement was out of the question.
The 2020 Olympics, which will commence on July 24 with an opening ceremony, will play host to more than 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.

 

February 23, 2020 - Posted by | Japan | ,

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