Organizers of the Tokyo Marathon have announced that the upcoming edition of their race, which is set for October 17, will only be open to residents of Japan. The country’s COVID-19 restrictions are still quite strict, and there is no word on when they might be eased, so organizers made the difficult decision to block any international runners from travelling to Japan and competing in the marathon. International athletes who were registered for the Tokyo Marathon will have their entries deferred until the 2023 event.
<Decision on Overseas Runners for #TokyoMarathon2021>
Due to continued strict border restrictions in place for travelers entering Japan and the uncertainty of when they will be lifted, the decision that overseas runners will not participate in the Tokyo Marathon 2021 was made. pic.twitter.com/k0f8pVaYBz
— Tokyo Marathon Foundation (@TokyoMarathon_E) June 17, 2021
Earlier this year, Tokyo Marathon organizers set their race date, moving the event from its traditional late February or early March run date to the fall. The run wouldn’t have worked so early in the year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but they hoped it would be able to go ahead later in 2021. At the moment, the race is still a go, but it will be a Japan-only event.
When organizers decided on the October race date, they also noted that the event capacity would be lowered to 25,000 runners from the usual field size of around 38,000. Nothing has been published regarding the race capacity in its new field format.
Japan has been able to host many big road and track races throughout the pandemic, but they’ve mostly been for runners already living within the country’s borders. The Tokyo Marathon may be the biggest Japanese race to bar international competitors, but it’s certainly not the first. The pandemic forced many popular races to only welcome citizens and residents of Japan, including last year’s Fukuoka International Marathon and the 2021 Lake Biwa, Osaka International Women’s and Nagoya Women’s marathons.
Unfortunately for anyone hoping to run in Tokyo, they will have to wait more than a year to do so, as international entries aren’t being deferred to 2022, but 2023.