The Coronavirus Hasn’t Canceled the 2020 Boston Marathon…Yet


Other big events have been postponed or canned because of the coronavirus, but officials at the Boston Marathon haven’t announced if the 124-year-old race will go on.

After Boston officials announced on Monday that the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade is canceled due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus, many runners wondered if it might be a precursor to cancellation of the 2020 Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20. But Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said on Tuesday, “We’re not there yet.”

Speaking about the spread of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) on the “Greg Hill Show,” Walsh said, “the marathon is something we’re having conversations about. There’s been three or four canceled around the world. We’re not there yet, but we still have many conversations to have.”

The Tokyo Marathon, which like the Boston Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors (WMM), decided to hold an elite-only race on March 1—it usually draws a field of more than 35,000 runners. The Rome and Barcelona marathons are also among the races that will not go on this year—other international events, like the world half marathon championships in Poland, have been postponed until the fall.

U.S.A. Track & Field also announced that the masters indoor championships scheduled for March 13–15 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have been canceled, though the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on the same days in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so far are going on as scheduled.

Back in Boston, race organizers have been posting updates periodically saying that discussions with local, state, and federal authorities are ongoing and they are proceeding “to ensure a safe and successful Boston Marathon,” even as nearby Harvard University dismissed students and announced a plan to offer classes online. Officials from the London Marathon, also a WMM event, have similarly indicated that the race on April 26 will go on as planned.

The NYC Half marathon planned for Sunday with about 25,000 runners was canceled on Tuesday. New York Road Runners officials said in a statement that resources to safely accommodate the large-scale event on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan became strained.

“Over the past week the NYRR team worked hard to adjust plans, implementing modifications and accommodations to alleviate crowding and facilitate social distancing,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, it has become clear that we will be unable to proceed in the manner that our runners have come to expect at NYRR events, where the safety and security of our runners, volunteers, staff, partners, and spectators are our main concern.”

Runners will have the opportunity to receive a registration fee refund or defer their entry until next year.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world, which even continued in in 1918, though it was modified as a military relay that year because of the country’s involvement in World War I, according to the Boston Globe.

And although Walsh said plans for the 124-year-old race go on for April 20, Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch told local news station Boston 25 that he wasn’t so sure.

“I have some serious doubts about that because…I’ve run a couple of marathons myself, like Boston and you get a large, international crowd there—runners and their families who come in,” he said. “So I would say it’s probably more likely than not that they will eventually cancel. I’m just guessing, but based on the data that we’re seeing, I would be surprised if they did not.”

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