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Coronavirus leads to one-year postponement of World Indoor Championships

The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in at least four major athletic competitions being cancelled or postponed

The rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, has resulted at least four major competitions being cancelled or postponed, the World Indoor Championships being the latest. World Athletics has issued a press release indicating that the championships, previously scheduled to take place in Nanjing, China on March 13 to 15, 2020, have been postponed to March 2021. The intention is to still hold the championships in Nanjing.

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, scheduled to take place on February 8 and 9, has been cancelled and the 70,000 entrants will receive refunds. The race traditionally attracts a strong and deep elite field due to its generous prize of US$65,000 for the male and female winners and $12,000 for course record-breakers.

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Earlier this week the Asian Athletics Association announced it was cancelling the Asian Indoor Championships, scheduled to take place in Hangzhou (600 kilometres from Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak), on February 12 and 13.

And Gaoligong by UTMB, an ultratrail race scheduled for March 21 to 23 in Yunnan, has been postponed. Gaoligong by UTMB offers four race distances: 165K, 135K, 55K and 35K. UTMB offers similar races including Oman and South America at different times of the year, in addition to the main event in Chamonix in August.


RELATED: Canada’s medal haul at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships

Nanjing is 448 kilometres from Wuhan (the centre of the coronavirus outbreak), but while the hope was that the outbreak could be brought under control over the six weeks remaining before the Championships, the rapid spread of the virus and increasing number of resulting deaths made postponing the event the only logical choice, in the eyes of many. There were also rumours that some would not have sent teams. World Athletics said it considered having the championships in another country, but ultimately the organization decided against it.

The most up-to-date numbers for the virus, which has been likened to SARS, are that there are more than 6,000 cases in 20 countries, and 133 deaths. There are now two confirmed cases in Canada and a third presumptive case (i.e. not-yet-confirmed).


The last World Indoor Championships, held in Birmingham, U.K. in 2018, resulted in a single medal for Canada: a silver for Olympic bronze medallist Damian Warner in the men’s heptathlon.