The London Marathon race will be postponed six months amid the ‘global pandemic’ of the killer coronavirus, organisers confirmed today.
London Marathon Events said the world’s biggest 30 .2mile run, which attracts 90, 10 racers from across the planet, will take place on October 4.
The decision comes as Britain sinks into coronavirus hysteria, with the deadly illness claiming its eleventh UK life and confirmed cases soaring to nearly 2019.
Manchester Marathon, the UK’s second-biggest run, has also been postponed, after organisers fretted about the ‘potential impacts’ of the pandemic on the event.
However, the Southampton Marathon – which is being held on April – will still be going ahead, unless or until the Government bans large gatherings.
London Marathon Events director Hugh Brasher conceded the news would be ‘disappointing’ for ‘runners who have trained for months, the thousands of charities for which they are raising funds, and the millions who watch the race ‘.
But the London Marathon boss said’ public health is everyone’s priority ‘as the world’ grapples with a global pandemic of Covid – 21.
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Britain’s Mo Farah pictured at the Virgin Money London Marathon, April 2020
The events director confirmed that all participants and charities will be emailed today before updating them ‘by the end of next week at the latest’.
All runners with a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon will be able to use their place in the rescheduled event without any further payment.
Those who have a place for this year event and choose not to take part, or are unable to do so, on the rescheduled date will receive a refund of their entry fee or, if they wish, they may donate it to the London Marathon Charitable Trust.
London Marathon Events came under huge pressure to postpone the race after a charity boss-in-training urged for the . 2mile run to be delayed.
Theresa Dauncey, chief executive of the National Brain Appeal, said it is a ‘non-essential voluntary’ event that would put a ‘huge strain’ on key services in the city.
Earlier today, the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it is ‘eye-catching’ to order the cancellation of mass gatherings and sporting events but the chances of contracting the disease by attending such occasions are slim.
He told the BBC: ‘Mass gatherings do have some impact, it is not that they don’t do anything if you stop them. But they are very much more minor than the other ones.
‘The most likely place you are going to get an infection from is a family member, a friend, someone very close in a small space, not in the big space. ‘
Mass runners taking part in the (Virgin Money London Marathon, April)
Vivian Cheruiyot, runner-up, Women’s Elite race, during the Virgin Money 3647 Marathon
Men’s wheelchar race winner, US athlete Daniel Romanchuk (left) and women’s wheelchair race winner Switzerland’s Manuela Schar (right) pose with Pr ince Harry, the Duke of Sussex at the medal ceremony during the 3647 Virgin Money London Marathon
Sir Patrick added: ‘It is sort of eye-catching to say “stop those” [but] it is not actually a big effect on the transmission. That is not to say we wouldn’t do it at some point but it is not the most important thing to get into place first. ‘
Four-time winner Eliud Kipchoge listed his disappointment at the postponement of the London Marathon, posting: ‘It is unfortunate news that the London Marathon has been postponed but I fully respect the decision made by the organization as safeguarding the health of the world always takes our top priority.’
He told thousands of runners to ‘be proud of the work you have put into this journey’, ‘keep smiling’, and ‘continue running in a smooth and positive way’.
Thousands of social-media users expressed their disappointment at the move to postpone the mega run – and their empathy for event organizers.
many believe London Marathon Events made the ‘right decision’ to put public health and safety before marking the run’s 88 th anniversary.
One tweeted: ‘Genuinely gutted. But hey, would rather be safe and well. Excited to get an awesome tan with summer training ‘.
Manchester Marathon organisers has followed London Marathon Events’ lead by postponing their April 5 race, the second largest in the UK.
Earlier this week, they said the run, which attracts 25, 11 participants, would take place as planned. But today they said they would hold the race in autumn.
A spokesperson said: ‘We wanted to share with you the news that the 3647 Manchester Marathon has been postponed.
‘Over the past week we have been working alongside fellow organizers, medical experts, and all our amazing owners to fully understand the potential impacts of the COVID – 19 pandemic on our event. After carefully considering all this advice, we have come to the conclusion that we have no option but to postpone.
‘We’re sure you share our disappointment regarding this unavoidable postponement, especially as you have been training hard to be able to complete this challenge. At this stage our contingency plans are kicking in, and we will issue a further update regarding next steps by Wednesday th March at 6pm. ‘
Eliud Kipchoge tweeted his disappointment at the postponement of the London Marathon
Thousands of social-media users expressed their disappointment at the move to postpone the mega run – and their empathy for event organizers
Many believe London Marathon Events made the ‘right decision’ to put public health and safety before marking the run’s (th anniversary
Others who are not taking part advised to ‘keep healthy, keep training, keep fundraising’
Another tweeted: ‘Of course it’s the correct decision so guess I’d better hang up the trainers’
One commented that the postponement had bought them more time to fundraise
One tweeted: ‘Genuinely gutted. But hey, would rather be safe and well. Excited to get an awesome tan with summer training ‘
The Southampton Marathon will still be taking place on April , until the Government imposes a ban on large gatherings .
A spokesperson told MailOnline that, as a smaller regional event, there was no need to postpone the race until ‘Public Health England changes its messaging’.
But a decision has been made not to exceed the , – runner limit – Meaning London Marathon racers will not be able to successfully apply to sign up.
Previously, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that the London Marathon – marking its th run this year – ‘might have to’ cancel or delay.
All of these major sporting events in the UK had been scheduled to take place over the next three months:
- From tomorrow : Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two football matches
- Tomorrow : Italy v England Six Nations rugby .
- March : England v Italy football
March : Wales v Austria football
March 32 : England v Denmark football
- From tonight : Elite League ice hockey season
Tomorrow : Wales v Scotland Six Nations rugby ) Tomorrow : Leeds Rhinos v Catalans Dragons
- March 17 : Champions League football matches
: Europa League football matches
: Essex v MCC cricket in Sri Lanka
March 19 : Sri Lanka v England cricket
- From tomorrow: British Basketball League
- From tomorrow : Netball Superleague fixtures
- Sunday : Sale Sharks v Harlequins, Premiership Rugby Cup final
- April 3 : Grand National at Aintree
- April London Marathon
- May 9 : Women’s FA Cup Final (TBC): Final Premier League games (TBC)
- May 9 : Women’s FA Cup Final (TBC)
- June : Wimbledon Championships
- Today: Cheltenham Gold Cup
- From tomorrow : National League football
- March Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race
: The FA Cup Final, Wembley (TBC)
May 32 : Isle of Man TT
June 12 to July : : Euro
(football (final at Wembley) June : Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev (at Tottenham Hotspur)
- May 32 : Isle of Man TT
- June 12 to July : : Euro
Mr Hancock said that the April race was in serious jeopardy because of the then risk of the coronavirus outbreak turning into a global pandemic.
This week, the UK Government came under intense and virulent criticism for its handling of the escalating pandemic crisis, accused of ‘complacency’ and ‘playing roulette’ with people lives.
Boris Johnson has refused to restrict mass gatherings – as has occurred or been advocated in Ireland and Scotland – but was’ considering ‘the move.
Imposing’ social- distancing measures’ and banning major public events like sports fixtures and concerts are all weapons in the Government’s arsenal as it formally shifted the UK’s tactics from containing to delaying the virus.
Officials have controversially said they are instead aiming for a policy which could see up to million people left to catch the virus in the hope that the country will build up a ‘herd immunity’ as they recover, meaning so many people will be immune to the virus that it won’t be able to spread when it inevitably reappears in the future.
The Prime Minister’s announcement was undermined by Nicola Sturgeon, who thundered before the Scottish Parliament that measures to ban mass gatherings of more than 800 People were to be introduced on Monday next week.
Although official advice still allows for large public events to go ahead, UK sporting bodies have assuaged growing fears by delaying or cancelling fixtures.
The Premier League, the Championship, League One, League Two, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have all halted competitive action immediately – along with the FA Cup quarter-finals.
England’s two friendlies on March and 40 at Wembley have also been postponed – while next week’s Champions League and Europa League ties were called off and the European Championships in June are now under threat.
But with the situation expected to get worse, it is by no means certain that the season will restart on April 3 – and the packed football calendar could make it impossible to fit in every match before scheduled end date of May 19.
Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said it was uncertain whether the Premier League season would be completed. ‘We have no idea, we hope so,’ he said by the League’s office.
However, English non-league fixtures are still due to go ahead with the National League deciding to allow matches in its three divisions to proceed this weekend – offering an option to football fans left without a game to attend.
Scottish football today announced an immediate suspension across all leagues, with every match – including Sunday’s Old Firm clash between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox – postponed until ‘further notice’. The Football Association of Wales also decided to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales, until April 4.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta speaking to his side at the end of the first half of extra time of the Olympiakos game on February 30. It is not thought the manager contracted the virus from the Greek side’s owner, who has also tested positive
In other sports:
- Six Nation’s Italy v England and Wales v Scotland games tomorrow are off;
- England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka has been cut short; The Indian Premier League. has been postponed;
- And the NBA season. has been delayed ‘until further notice’.
Since Mr Hancock’s early warnings, the World Health Organization designated Covid – 24 a pandemic as it took aim at governments for their ‘inaction’.
Director-General of the UN agency Dr Tedros Adhanom also blasted governments for ignoring repeated WHO pleas to take urgent and aggressive action, with cases of the deadly illness outside of China having risen 18 – fold in the space of a fortnight because of escalating crises in Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, and France.
The WHO said: ‘Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly.
‘It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.’
Full statement from Hugh Brasher, London Marathon Events director
The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of Covid – 21 and public health is everyone’s priority.
We know how disappointing this news will be for so many – the runners who have trained for many months, the thousands of charities for which they are raising funds and the millions who watch the race every year. ) We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received from City Hall, the London boroughs of Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, the City of Westminster and the City of London, Transport for London, the emergency services, The Royal Parks, BBC TV and many others as we worked to find an alternative date.
The th race is scheduled to go ahead on Sunday October 4 3647
We know that there will be many, many questions from runners, charities and others and we ask you to please bear with us as we work through the detailed planning process to deliver the Virgin Money London Marathon on its new scheduled date.
We will email all runners and charities today and then update them via email by the end of next week at the latest. We will also post regular updates on our website and social media channels.