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Boston Marathon postponed from April 20 to September 14

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Washington (AFP)

The 124th Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20, has been postponed to September 14 due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced on Friday.

The historic race, first contested in 1897, is the world's oldest annual marathon and typically takes place on the Patriots Day holiday celebrated in Boston and the entire state of Massachusetts.

After Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh decided the race could not proceed as scheduled in April and the BAA said in a statement it "understands the city's decision."

"On matters of public health and safety we take our guidance from the officials entrusted with protecting the public in this area," said association chief executive Tom Grilk.

"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."

BAA officials have worked with municipal leaders across eight cities and towns where the course for the 26.2-mile event takes place to coordinate plans for September 14 as a new date.

"The BAA's mission of promoting health through sports, especially running, has guided our organization for more than a century," Grilk said. "In collaboration with our many partners, we look forward to welcoming the world to Boston in September."

The delay means it will be an extra five months before Kenya's Lawrence Cherono will have a chance to defend his 2019 men's crown and Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia could bid for a repeat in the women's race.

Cherono probably will have to choose between marathon titles to defend because he also won last year's Chicago Marathon and that race is scheduled for October 11.

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