The Boston Marathon has been canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, marking the first time the iconic event will not take place its 124-year history, city officials announced Thursday.
In conjunction with the Boston Athletic Association, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) made the announcement less than a week after indicating a final decision on the marathon’s status was near.
The most prestigious marathon in the United States had been postponed earlier this year when the original March 13 date was pushed tentatively to Sept. 14, amid safety concerns for participants, race organizers and staff, and spectators.
“The traditional one-day running of the 124th Boston Marathon is not feasible this year for public health reasons,” Walsh said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “There is no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity.
“While our goal and hope was to make progress and contain the virus and recover our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14 or anytime this year.”
On Wednesday, the United States marked the grim milestone of 100,000 reported deaths because of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. There have been more than 5.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world.
The pandemic has put the majority of professional athletic competition on indefinite hold, and sports such as NASCAR that have resumed are doing so without fans.
The Boston Marathon, which is run on a course from the city’s western suburbs to the downtown finish line, typically consists of an international field of 30,000 runners, with hundreds of thousands of fans watching in-person and thousands of volunteers assisting on race day.
It’s also the only major non-Olympic marathon in the country in which runners are required to qualify to compete, and brings the city an estimated $ 200 million in revenue.
Qualifiers for this year’s race have the option to participate in a virtual version of the event to receive their medal. Alternatively, anyone entered in this year’s race also has the option of having their entry fee refunded, according to organizers.
The cancellation underscores uncertainty regarding other races that are part of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.
The London Marathon, for instance, was postponed to Oct. 4, from its original date of April 26. The status of the Berlin Marathon, which had been scheduled for Sept. 27, remains on hold.
“The spirit of Boston and the spirt of the Boston Marathon is to be strong and to be smart,” BAA CEO Tom Grilk said during the news conference. “When necessity drives you in a direction you may not like, you have to have this strength, the wisdom and the guidance from public officials to do what’s right.”