On February 17, the Tokyo Marathon announced that its mass participation race was cancelled due to coronavirus. Although the elite and wheelchair races will still go ahead as planned on Sunday, several athletes—including Canada’s Rachel Cliff—have announced they won’t be racing.
Why Cliff pulled out
Cliff said that her main reason for withdrawing from Tokyo was not out of a fear of getting sick, although the coronavirus did indirectly affect her decision. When the race organizers cancelled the mass participation event, the men’s elite field cut-off time was adjusted to 2:21 to limit the race field to a total of just 200 competitors.
Other athletes withdraw
Cliff isn’t the only athlete to withdraw from Tokyo after the changes were announced. Manuela Schär, the 2019 women’s wheelchair champion in Tokyo, has also pulled out, citing concerns surrounding coronavirus, as reported by the Japan Times.
Schär not only won in Tokyo last year, she swept all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. In fact, this weekend will mark the first time in nine major marathons that Schär has not won. Other withdrawals include wheelchair athletes Wakako Tsuchida of Japan and Americans Tatyana McFadden and Susannah Scaroni.