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Tokyo Marathon restricted to elite field; 38,000 mass participation runners told to stay at home

Tokyo Marathon
Image: Next month's Tokyo Marathon will be restricted to elite runners because of coronavirus threat

The Tokyo Marathon will go ahead with only elite athletes on March 1 because of the continuing spread of coronavirus.

A field of 38,000 people had been scheduled to run in the Japanese capital but instead there will be just over 200 participants in the elite men's, women's and wheelchair events.

The Tokyo Marathon is one of the world's six major races alongside Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

None of them has been cancelled since 2012 when the New York Marathon was not run because of Superstorm Sandy.

A statement from the organisers sent to entrants read: "We have been preparing for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 (Sunday, March 1) while implementing preventive safety measures.

"However, now that case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated and we regret to inform you the following - the Tokyo Marathon 2020 will be held only for the marathon elites and the wheelchair elites."

Runners registered for the mass participation event have been given the option to defer their entry until 2021.

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It becomes the latest sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak, which initially occured in Hubei province, China, with Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix one of the highest-profile cancellations so far.

World Rugby Sevens Series events in Hong Kong and Singapore are being rescheduled, the start of the Chinese football season has been delayed, and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing were cancelled.

As yet there is no threat to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, with officials saying last week that preparations remained on course for competition to get underway on July 24.

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