Coronavirus spurs Tokyo Marathon to cancel race for tens of thousands


The relentless spread of the coronavirus has spurred organizers of next month’s 2020 Tokyo Marathon to downsize their massive race to only a small field of elite runners.

As one of the “world majors” — the six largest marathons across the globe — Tokyo was expecting about 38,000 competitors to take the streets of the capital city on March 1. The field will now be winnowed to several hundred.

The announcement came after reports that six more Japanese residents had tested positive for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, over the weekend.


“Now that cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated,” organizers said in a statement.

So far, officials with the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have insisted the outbreak will not impact the Games, which are scheduled to begin in late July. International Olympic Committee leaders have reiterated there are no contingency plans to cancel or move the Olympics.

But numerous other sporting events throughout Asia — including soccer matches, an international track meet and a Formula One race — have been postponed or switched to alternate locations because of the virus that has infected about 71,000 people in China, killing more than 1,700, since late December.

Tokyo Marathon officials said all runners not in the elite or elite wheelchair categories could defer their entries to next year.