Tokyo Marathon canceled for 38,000 runners due to COVID-19 fears

As Japan ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the most important sporting events within the nation are going to be curtailed, with participation within the Tokyo Marathon that is limited to wheelchair competitors and elite runners, organizers said Monday.

Thousands of runners will not be ready to participate within the event next month thanks to growing fears over a domestic outbreak of COVID-19.

The Tokyo Marathon, slated for March 1, follows a roughly 42-km route starting at the Tokyo Metropolitan building in Shinjuku and finishing at Tokyo Station.

Thirty-eight-thousand runners were set to run within the Tokyo Marathon this year. Participation are going to be drastically reduced by barring general participants to stop further spread of the virus. Roughly 200 elite runners will participate within the marathon, which doubles as a qualifying race for the 2020 Games.

Marathon organizers had formed a panel of doctors in January to plan safety measures also as ways to stop further spreading of the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, organizers asked Chinese residents to defer entry to the present year’s marathon thanks to concern of the virus, which is assumed to possess originated within the Chinese city of Wuhan. Runners were told they might automatically qualify for next year’s marathon if they complied.

Deferred entry was offered to quite 1,800 runners of varied nationalities based in China, where, as of Monday, the coronavirus has caused nearly 1,800 deaths and infected quite 70,000 individuals.

The outbreak has led to the cancellation or relocation of sporting events round the world. Olympic women’s football qualifying slated for Feb. 3-9 was moved from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, to Australia, while Asian Champions League games involving Chinese clubs are pushed back to April and should.

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 sport will continue.

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 can commence on July 24 with a gap ceremony, will play host to quite 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.

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