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Boston Marathon postponed amid coronavirus concerns

 Boston Marathon
The start of the 2013 Boston Marathon.
(Stew Milne / Associated Press)

Organizers of the Boston Marathon are postponing the event until Sept. 14 because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday.

The new date moves the race from the spring season to a crowded fall, with the London, Paris and Barcelona marathons also postponing until after the summer over COVID-19 concerns.

The Boston Athletic Assn., which oversees the marathon, had held off deciding the fate of the April 20 race even as other high-profile sporting events were canceled or postponed around the globe.

But pressure mounted in recent weeks from officials in Boston and the seven cities and towns along the 26.2-mile course. Some had expressed worries not only for the health of the 31,000 registered runners, but also for the estimated 1 million spectators who traditionally line the route, giving athletes hand slaps, high fives and even kisses as they pass.

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Thursday will be forever remembered as the day sports went dark, turning off its lights, nailing plywood over its windows, bolting its doors to the insidious approach of the coronavirus.

President Trump’s order restricting most Europeans’ travel to the United States over the coronavirus complicated efforts to salvage the original race date. About a third of the runners in this year’s field were from outside the U.S.

The Boston Marathon has never been canceled outright since its first running in 1897, though there was a de facto cancellation in 1918, when the end of World War I and a global influenza pandemic prompted organizers to switch to a relay race format.

Otherwise, not even the Great Depression or ferocious storms had interrupted the 124-year-old race.

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Walsh said the marathon pumps $211 million a year into the city’s economy — not counting the millions more that runners raise for charities.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency, and race organizers said they have been in close contact with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.


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