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Berlin Marathon falls victim as Germany extends ban on mass gatherings

Start of the 2017 BMW Berlin Marathon (by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images For BMW)

The organisers of the Berlin Marathon have announced that this year’s race will not go ahead as scheduled after the German government extended its ban on large-scale gatherings until October 24.

The marathon, one of the six World Marathon Majors, was supposed to take place on September 27, one week before the current date for the rescheduled London Marathon, which was also moved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Berlin race now looks unlikely to be held before mid-November at the earliest, with the New York marathon pencilled in for the first of that month. As well as London, the Boston Marathon was also moved from the spring to the autumn, with a new race date of September 14.

The media and sponsorship rights to the Berlin Marathon are sold by the Infront agency, which is also responsible for the broadcast production. The Wanda Sports-owned agency has been hit hard by the widespread cancellation of mass participation events around the world.

Of the six World Marathon Majors, only Tokyo has taken place so far this year on March 1, with a reduced field consisting only of elite runners, without the mass participation element. 

Germany’s decision to suspend mass gatherings for the entire summer will stoke fears that even the rescheduled London and Boston events may be at risk, if the respective governments follow suit in deciding that large-scale events remain untenable by that stage.

“We will now deal with the consequences, coordinate the further steps, and inform you as soon as we can. Let us remain strong together,” said the Berlin Marathon event team in an Instagram post.

Germany has suffered significantly fewer deaths from Covid-19 than its European neighbours in Italy, France and the UK, with 4,948 to date, and has already begun lifting some of the lockdown measures it has had in place since early March. Authorities are mindful of avoiding a second spike, however, and have outlined plans to prevent mass gatherings until at least the autumn.