Nagoya Women's Marathon restricted to elite runners over coronavirus

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Nagoya Women’s Marathon on March 8 will be limited to elite runners, and the Nagoya City Marathon scheduled for the same day has been canceled, organizers said, marking the latest sports events to be affected by fears over the new coronavirus.

The events were to be held together and were expected to attract about 40,000 runners. Organizers said they were concerned that would create crowded areas with close contact between runners and spectators.

Japan has been gripped by fears over the virus since the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off Yokohama for two weeks until Wednesday, became the subject of intense media attention, and as infections rose in other parts of the country. More than 600 people became infected on the ship and two had died as of Thursday.

“Much to our regret, we reached a conclusion that it is extremely difficult to stage a safe and secure event that all runners can participate without worries,” Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2020 said in a statement on its website. “Therefore, the Nagoya Women’s Marathon 2020 will be held only for those registered as elite athletes.”

The decision to restrict entry to elite runners follows a similar move by the Tokyo Marathon this week. Both are Olympic qualifying events for Japanese marathoners.

Nagoya organizers said participation fees would not be refunded but that runners could take part in an “online marathon” in which they run a set distance and track it with a dedicated smartphone app. They will receive commemorative items for their race entry by mail.

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