Coronavirus Fears Cancel the Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon Canceled over concerns for Coronavirus

In recent weeks, a disease known as coronavirus, aka Covid-19, has been emanating globally from its origin in the city of Wuhan, located in China’s Hubei province.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a viral respiratory disease of epidemic proportions. The virus is named “corona” for the crown-like structure formed by microscopic spikes on the surface of the virus which causes the disease.

To date, nearly 80,000 people worldwide have been stricken with coronavirus, and the death toll has risen to 2,650. More than 77,000 of the cases, and almost 2,600 of the deaths, have occurred in mainland China. But new cases are being increasingly reported, both in Asia and around the world.

As of February 23, 2020, 147 of those coronavirus cases, and one coronavirus death, have occurred in Japan.

About the Tokyo Marathon

For the last 13 years, the six most prestigious marathon races in the world have been structured into a competitive format known as Abbott World Marathon Majors. One of those elite races is the Tokyo Marathon.

The Tokyo Marathon is not only very prestigious, it’s also very popular. Even though it’s one of the largest capacity races in the world, its overwhelming popularity makes it very difficult to obtain a starting slot.

For the 2019 event, there were 331,211 applications to the lottery system, with 30,000 entry slots available to non-elite runners and wheelchair elites. That means for every 11 applications, 10 aspiring amateur marathoners were rejected. (There’s another category in the Tokyo Marathon, marathon elites, comprised of about 200 of the world’s most elite runners and wheelchair racers.)

Applications to the Tokyo Marathon are processed through a lottery system. It increases applicants’ chances of success in that lottery if their application is accompanied by a significant contribution to a Japanese charity. Applicants hoping to enhance their odds can choose from a list of 29 charities selected by the race organizers.

For example, veteran amateur marathoner Carmen Micsa, of Sacramento, California, amplified her chances of acceptance into the race by making a $975 donation to a charity that benefits Japanese forests. (Her application was accepted.)

The point being made here is that participation in the Tokyo Marathon is a big deal, a bucket list item, if you’re a serious marathoner.

Cancelling the Tokyo Marathon is a safety measure to prevent new coronavirus cases

The Tokyo Marathon 2020 is the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

Fears of potential coronavirus contagion in and around the race caused the marathon’s organizers to cancel the participation of the 38,000 non-elite racers who were accepted to this year’s race.

That’s every participant, whether a man or a woman, an able-bodied runner or a wheelchair athlete, other than those 200 or so elite professional racers.

The race will still be held, but the only participants will be those entitled 200 elite athletes. Many of them need this race in order to qualify for the marathon event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, scheduled for next July.

Surprised and disappointed marathon racers expressed mixed feelings about the race’s cancellation

The aspiring racers were given little advance warning. It wasn’t until February 17, 2020, that the cancellation of the March 1, 2020 race was announced.

They understood the priority of public safety in the face of an outbreak that’s been labeled an international health emergency by the World Health Organization. But they also wondered just how effective the cancellation would be in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Money paid for hotel reservations may or may not be refundable. It’s unlikely that purchasers of airline tickets will get their money back. And the vacation time necessary to accommodate the race, had of course, already been arranged.

Many registered runners will no doubt head to Tokyo anyway

Coronavirus concerns over Tokyo marathon

The CDC has issued a Level 2 Alert in Japan with special precautions for high-risk travelers.

All that planning and monetary investment mean many of those registered for the race will take their long-planned Tokyo trip, irrespective of the race’s status. And they’ll all still be breathing the same air in Tokyo, even if they’re not breathing as hard.

The way organizers of the Tokyo Marathon have handled money issues doesn’t seemed designed to soothe the feelings of registered runners. It was first announced that the registration fee (about $167 for non-Japanese participants) would be refunded.

Then the organizers changed their collective mind and decided to keep the 2020 registration fees.

One bright spot remains. Each applicant who was accepted into this year’s race is automatically accepted into next year’s race. That means they won’t have to go through the lottery system (plus charitable donations) to gain acceptance into the 2021 iteration of the Tokyo Marathon. But they will still have to pay a new registration fee for that 2021 race.

Carmen Micsa, the Sacramento marathoner who is helping save Japan’s trees, displayed the indomitable spirit which characterizes successful marathoners:

“There is disappointment, but there is always something better that will come along. Maybe next year I’ll run a stronger Tokyo Marathon.”

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Whether you’re a marathon elite runner or just up for a casual stroll, if you’re experiencing foot pain or problems with your feet or ankles, we’re here to help. Our nationally recognized foot and ankle surgeons offer the most advanced care and the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or click here to make an appointment now.

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