As the coronavirus outbreak begins to spread across the U.S., at least one major gathering of athletes will go on as planned in Los Angeles.
A week after the Tokyo Marathon urged spectators to avoid the course and limited its race to elite runners, the Los Angeles Marathon will go on as planned, despite 26 cases of the virus in California. Los Angeles has one confirmed case but has not yet become a center for concern.
Asked If the outbreak would have any impact on the Los Angeles Marathon, a spokesperson pointed to the race’s previous public comments.
“We are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and are in touch with local authorities and public health officials,” the race announced earlier this week. “At this time, there are no discussions regarding any changes – all marathon week activities, including the Marathon and 5K, will go on as scheduled.”
Should Los Angeles see a surge in confirmed cases prior to March 8, actions could be taken, according to a March 2 statement from race organizers.
“If circumstances change, we will work closely with local, state and federal authorities to implement any necessary plans and protocols for the marathon,” the statement read. ”Runner safety is paramount and will continue to be our top priority throughout race day. We will communicate any additional updates, should conditions change, through email, Twitter, Facebook, and our website.”
The U.S. currently has 105 known coronavirus cases in 15 states, with nine confirmed deaths. Most American cases have appeared in Northern California and Washington, and while the actual severity of the outbreak in the U.S. remains unknown, the global outbreak surged to over 92,000 with 3,000 deaths. The majority have been in China, where the virus originated late last year.
While the gathering of more than 25,000 runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators in Los Angeles will go on, the rest of the running world has taken measures to help prevent the spread of the virus as pandemic concerns spread through the media.
The Tokyo Marathon on March 1 saw a drastic reduction of runners in response to a growing coronavirus outbreak in Japan. With 256 cases and six deaths in Japan, an expected field of 38,000 was reduced to a field of 200 elite runners and wheelchair athletes. Spectators were encouraged to avoid the course, and the estimated crowd was 20% smaller than normal, according to Runner’s World.
The scaleback of the Japanese event came at the same time fears of similar action – or a complete cancellation – of this summer’s Olympics could happen in response to Coronavirus. For now, the plan will be for the Olympics to go on as planned, according to the BBC.
Several athletic events have also been canceled, including the Chinese Grand Prix and World Athletics Indoor Championships.
April’s London Marathon could take a similar route to Tokyo, while the Paris Half Marathon was canceled on March 1, a result of the French government enacting rules to cancel “gatherings of more than 5,000 people.” More than 44,000 people were registered to run the Paris race.