TOKYO, Japan – Organizers said Monday, February 17, they are cancelling the amateur portion of the Tokyo Marathon, affecting around 38,000 runners, on fears about the spread of the new coronavirus in Japan.
"We reached the conclusion that unfortunately it is difficult to organize the event... after several cases [of the virus] were confirmed in Tokyo," the TokyoMarathon Foundation said in a statement.
The decision will not affect elite runners, including elite wheelchair participants, the organizers said.
But they only account for around 200 of the tens of thousands of people who had registered for the March 1 race.
Last week, the organizers asked participants from China to refrain from taking part in the marathon.
The amateurs including those from China registered for this year's event are eligible for the 2021 marathon, but with an entry fee ranging from 5,600 yen ($50) to 18,200 yen ($165), according to the organizers.
They will not get refund for this year's entry fee.
Japanese participants expressed disappointment over the decision.
"Uuuggghhh, I wanted to run! But no choice," given the virus situation, one wrote on Twitter.
"I was really looking forward to it... I know it cannot be helped but I wanted them to postpone it to the autumn instead of cancelling it," wrote another.
The cancellation comes after Japanese government officials warned the spread of the virus in the country entering "a new phase."
At least 65 cases have been diagnosed in Japan, excluding hundreds of infections aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast.
On Sunday, the health minister warned citizens to avoid large crowds and non-essential gatherings, sparking speculation that the marathon would be cancelled.
A public gathering for the birthday of Emperor Naruhito that was scheduled for February 23 has also been cancelled on virus fears.