Marathon bosses hold crisis talks as fears grow

Thursday, March 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Participants in action during last year’s London Marathon. Photo/PD/AFP

London, Wednesday

London Marathon bosses are holding crisis talks amid growing fears that next month’s race will be cancelled because of coronavirus.

The number diagnosed with the virus in the UK increased to 51 on Tuesday — and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out shelving the marathon.

As one of the largest sporting events in the world, involving around 45,000 runners and up to a million spectators on the capital’s streets, the outbreak risks associated with the race on April 26 are being discussed by organisers.

While no timeframe has been given on a final decision, they cited advice from the government that all mass events are currently being instructed to proceed as normal.

A statement to Sportsmail from Hugh Brasher, the London Marathon event director, read: ‘We are monitoring closely the developments relating to the spread of COVID-19 and noting the updates and advice given by the UK Government, World Health Organisation and UK public bodies.’

It emerged on Tuesday that this summer’s Tokyo Olympics could also be postponed in response to the global crisis. 

In the first official recognition that the Games may be moved from their July 24-August 9 slot, Japanese Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto said his country’s contract with the International Olympic Committee meant they had the whole of 2020 in which to stage them. 

Hashimoto said: ‘This could be taken to mean the Games being postponed until later this year.’

The IOC executive board met in Lausanne yesterday and moved to ease concerns, despite the spread of coronavirus from China to more than 60 countries at a cost of more than 3,000 lives so far.

An IOC statement read: ‘The IOC encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games.’

Meanwhile in Formula One, Italy-based Ferrari fans will be kept out of Bahrain and Vietnam for races there as a result of coronavirus-based travelling restrictions imposed yesterday.

However, F1 bosses remain adamant those two races will go ahead and are working with authorities in both countries to expedite team personnel — rather than supporters — through the airports on arrival.

As it stands, only the Chinese Grand Prix — scheduled for April 19 — has been postponed. The first race in Melbourne is set to go ahead as planned a week on Sunday. -Dailymail

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