Coronavirus outbreak prompts restriction of participation in 2020 Tokyo Marathon

In response to new cases of the coronavirus being confirmed in Japan, the 2020 Tokyo Marathon has restricted participation to only its marathon elites and wheelchair elites, the organization announced in a press release Monday. All registered runners have the option to defer their entry to next year’s marathon.

“We have been preparing for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 (Sunday, March 1) while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that case of COVID-19 has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated,” the organization said in the release.

Registered runners who still want to participate in the 2021 race will need to pay entry fees. Donations received for the 2020 race would not be refunded, the organization noted.

The 2020 Tokyo Marathon is just the latest event to be cancelled amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, now named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease which the virus causes, known as COVID-19. In the United States, Facebook recently canceled a conference in San Francisco as a safety measure, Vox reported.

However, the restriction of participation in the city’s marathon has prompted some to question if the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics may be impacted by the virus. John Coates, head of an International Olympic Committee inspection team, noted how there’s no contingency plan for cancelling or moving the games, but that the event was still “on track,” the Associated Press reported.

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SARS-CoV-2 is not the first virus that has caused some to worry if a major sporting event might be cancelled. In 2016, rapid spread of the Zika virus in South and North America prompted some to wonder if and how it would impact that year’s Olympic games, held in Rio de Janeiro, with some athletes foregoing their participation in the event out of health concerns.

However, the only time that Olympic games have been cancelled were during major wars, World War I and World War II, according to the Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.