Another event has been taken down by the coronavirus, as it was announced this morning that the Rome Marathon, which was set for March 29, is officially cancelled. Also, the Paris Marathon, scheduled for April 5, has been postponed, probably until the fall, according to local media. This decision comes just days after the Paris Half-Marathon’s last-minute cancellation and the limited field at the Tokyo Marathon, both of which were due to the coronavirus. Things finally looked to be taking a turn for the better earlier this week, when the International Olympic Committee said Tokyo 2020 would go ahead as planned, but today’s announcement from Rome has people asking what other events might be cancelled in the coming months.
Italy’s largest marathon has been cancelled due to #COVID19. The race had been struggling financially for years, and was under new management for 2020. Hope they can come back; their start/finish area by the Il Colosseo is really special. https://t.co/174yotNl7w
— David Monti (@d9monti) March 5, 2020
On February 20, Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh responded to concerns about a possible Boston Marathon cancellation.
“I think that’s an overreaction,” he said, as reported by Inside the Games. “In Boston, it shouldn’t affect our marathon.” Two weeks later, however, and the idea that Boston 2020 might not be run looks more and more possible. Since Walsh’s statement, there have been event cancellations or postponements all around the globe, and reports of coronavirus are only increasing.
The Boston Marathon is on April 20, over a month away, and it’s impossible to forecast just how bad the situation could get (or how much it could improve) between now and then. If matters do get worse, it will also be a question of whether organizers cancel the race completely, postpone it or take a page out of the Tokyo Marathon book and only run the elite and wheelchair races.
Even sooner than Boston is the Rotterdam Marathon, which is scheduled for April 5. Nothing has been said about postponing or cancelling the race, but there is a notice on the event website which says that organizers are “keeping a close eye” on the development of the coronavirus.
Another big race coming up is the London Marathon, which is just a week after Boston on April 26. This website, too, has a statement saying the coronavirus situation is being monitored and organizers are taking advice from the U.K. government and World Health Organization.
“The government’s current advice is that all mass events should still go ahead,” the statement says. Again, this event is well over a month away, and a lot could change in that time.
Cancelling or postponing events like these will affect thousands of runners (like the 38,000 people who weren’t allowed to run in Tokyo on the weekend) who have already paid race entry fees, arranged travel and accommodations and trained for months for specific events. That’s bad enough, but major race cancellations could have a big impact on Olympic team selections.
🗣️"The Government’s current advice is that all mass events should still go ahead."
— Virgin Money London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) March 3, 2020
This was the case in Tokyo for Rachel Cliff, who pulled out of the race a few days before she was set to run it. Cliff had hoped to improve on her marathon PB of 2:26:56 in Tokyo to give herself a better shot at being selected for the Canadian Olympic team.
Rotterdam and London are two flat and fast courses, and there are likely a lot of elite marathon runners eyeing them as opportunities to run quick times and book their tickets to the Olympics. Hopefully there won’t be more big cancellations in the coming months.