New York, Berlin cancel marathons due to coronavirus


New York (AFP)

Marathons in New York and Berlin were cancelled on Wednesday due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced, as other races ponder their plans.

The New York Road Runners, after consulting with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, called off the planned November 1 race, what would have been the 50th edition of the world's largest marathon with more than 50,000 finishers expected.

The running club, organizers of the annual 26.2-mile trek through New York's five boroughs, said COVID-19 worries for runners, spectators, volunteers and staff prompted the decision.

"While the marathon is an iconic and beloved event in our city, I applaud New York Road Runners for putting the health and safety of both spectators and runners first," de Blasio said.

This marks the first year the New York race has not been contested since 2012, when Hurricane Sandy wiped out the event.

"Canceling this year's New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective," said Michael Capiraso, president and chief executive officer of the New York Road Runners.

Next year's New York race date was set for November 7, 2021.

Berlin Marathon organizers cited trouble finding an alternate date due to the COVID-19 pandemic in calling off an event that drew 62,000 runners in 2019.

In late April, a postponement was announced for the Berlin race, which had been scheduled for September 27. But virus issues forced the event to be scrapped altogether.

"Due to the weather conditions alone and shortening days, it's very difficult to hold the Berlin Marathon... before the end of this year," race director Juergen Jock said.

"The question of whether athletes will be able to travel internationally again by then cannot be answered now."

The city of Berlin has banned events with more than 5,000 participants since April.

The flat, fast course around Berlin's city center is where Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge set the men's world marathon record of 2 hours 01:39 minutes in 2018.

It was the eighth time in the previous 20 years that the men's world record has fallen on the streets of Berlin.

The decisions came weeks after the Boston Marathon was canceled for the first time in its 124-year history.

The London Marathon has been postponed until October 4 while the Chicago Marathon remains scheduled for October 11 and the Paris Marathon is planned for October 18.