Tokyo Marathon Cancels Mass Participation Race Due to Coronavirus

What is usually Japan’s largest race will be open only to the pro fields.

Brian Dalek |

Because of the spread of coronavirus within Japan, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced on Monday that it is canceling the 1 March race to runners in the mass participation field. The marathon will still be held for the pro men and women in the race and will still act as the Olympic marathon selection race for Japan.

RELATED: What Runners Need to Know About Coronavirus

The Tokyo Marathon, one of the six World Marathon Majors, was anticipating another large field of 38,000 runners, making it Japan’s largest road race.

“We cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated and we regret to inform you the following: The Tokyo Marathon 2020 will be held only for the marathon elites and the wheelchair elites,” organizers said in a statement.

The decision comes just a few weeks out from the race. Organizers have provided the following information to registered runners on their website:

  • Registered runners can defer entry to the 2021 Tokyo Marathon.
  • Runners who defer their entry to 2021 are required to pay the entry fees for the 2021 event.
  • The entry fee and the donations received for the 2020 race.
  • For runners who have purchased the Tokyo Marathon 2020 T-shirt, the item will be shipped following the event.

“Following the decision of the race organizers to cancel the mass participation element of the 2020 Tokyo Marathon, one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, we are assisting in the communication of the relevant information to participants who are on their Six Star journey,” said Tim Hadzima, executive director of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

This is not the only sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus, which has spread to about 70,000 people China has killed more than 1,700 people there have died as of February 17. The World Athletics Indoor Championships, scheduled for mid-March in Nanjing, China, were called off at the end of January. The virus has also forced other organizations to cancel events in cycling, soccer, Formula 1, and tennis.

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to start on the 24 July, and the International Olympic Committee have said the Games are not in jeopardy and that they are following the advice of the World Health Organization.

“Certainly the advice we’re receiving externally from the WHO is that there’s no case for any contingency plans or canceling the games or moving the games,” John Coates, the head of an IOC inspection team, said Friday in Tokyo.

The cancellation of the Tokyo Marathon isn’t the first World Marathon Major to be canceled or stopped on short notice. The 2012 New York City Marathon was canceled two days before the race was scheduled to run because of the destruction left behind from Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, much of the field in the Boston Marathon was diverted away from the finish line after two bombs detonated on Boylston Street, killing three individuals and injuring many others. The the 2007 Chicago Marathon was also stopped midrace because of intense heat on the course.

Even with health and safety at the forefront, runners are taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the move.


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