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Tokyo Marathon to be postponed until late 2021

In an attempt to avoid cancelling their mass participation race for the second-straight year, Tokyo Marathon organizers are postponing their event

Photo by: Kazuo Tanaka@PhotoRun

On Wednesday, Tokyo Marathon sources told The Japan Times that the first World Marathon Major of the year will be postponed until the fall of 2021. The race is currently set to take place in March, but with COVID-19 still not under control in much of the world, the risk of a cancellation appears too likely for an event scheduled so early in the year. Word is that the decision has already been made, but the Tokyo Marathon Foundation will hold a board meeting on Friday to make the postponement official.

Tokyo Marathon
Runners in the mass participation race of the Tokyo Marathon.

Hoping for mass participation 

The Tokyo Marathon was held in 2020, but not at full capacity. By February, it was clear that COVID-19 was a real threat to the global public’s health and safety, prompting organizers to cancel the mass participation event and instead only host the elite and wheelchair races. About 38,000 people were registered to run in Tokyo, which was held on March 1, but a select group of only 250 athletes ended up racing.

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Organizers understandably want to avoid yet another cancellation in 2021, and although moving their event to the fall doesn’t guarantee anything, it certainly has better odds to go ahead six or seven months later in the year than it does in March. The fall race date is not expected to become a regular tradition, and the 2022 event is still slated for March. 

Tokyo Marathon
Finish line of the Tokyo Marathon in 2016.

More bad news for Tokyo 2021

Tokyo Games organizers and the IOC have definitively said the Olympics will happen no matter what, but with every postponed or cancelled event in 2021, it looks less and less likely that the Summer Games will happen. A sweeping statement from the IOC declaring that the Games will go ahead as planned doesn’t carry much weight — they basically said the same thing earlier this year, only to postpone Tokyo 2020 until 2021. There is still plenty of time until the July 23 start date for the Games, but major events (especially those in Japan) like the Tokyo Marathon being postponed is hardly good news for anyone invested in the 2021 Olympics. 

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