The London and Boston marathons have become the latest major sporting events to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The London Marathon, which was due to take place on the streets of London on 26 April and feature some 43,000 participants, has been rescheduled for October 4, the first time the race has been postponed since its launch in 1981.
Event director, Chris Brasher said in a statement: “The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of Covid-19 and public health is everyone’s priority.
“We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received from City Hall, the London boroughs of Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, the City of Westminster and the City of London, Transport for London, the emergency services, The Royal Parks, BBC TV and many others as we worked to find an alternative date. The 40th Race is scheduled to go ahead on Sunday 4 October 2020.”
The organisers said every runner with a place in the 2020 event will be able to use their place in the rescheduled event on Sunday 4 October without any further payment. Those who choose not to take part, will be entitled to a full refund of their entry fee.
The London marathon normally acts as a trial for Olympic places in the British team. British Athletics said it planned to stage a special race in a closed location to select its runners for Tokyo 2020. A spokesperson told The Guardian they would look to hold the event in a closed location with limited numbers on 25 to 27 April.
Boston Marathon host, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), issued a statement on the same day, announcing it could not host its race on April 20 and that it would postpone the event until September 14.
A statement on the BAA website indicated the organisation had been guided by the state of emergency declared in Massachusetts by governor Charlie Baker. On Sunday night Baker ordered all schools across the state to close for three weeks and has limited all restaurants to offer only take-aways and deliveries.
“On matters of public health and safety we take our guidance from the officials entrusted with protecting the public in this area,” said Tom Grilk, chief executive of the BAA.
“We understand our role, along with our partners, in ensuring a safe environment for all participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters that meets the standards set by those officials.”
The BAA said it has been cooperating with municipal leaders across the eight cities and towns through which the marathon course runs to coordinate the September 14 date for the 124th Boston Marathon. The BAA 5K, which draws a field of 10,000 participants, will also be rescheduled to a later date.