New York and Berlin Marathons cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic

World's most famous race slated for November 1 cancelled while October's rearranged Berlin Marathon called off due to uncertainty about regulations

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Organisers have cancelled this year's New York and Berlin marathons due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The New York Road Runners (NYRR), in partnership with the mayor's office, said the decision to cancel the world's largest marathon, slated for November 1, was made due to novel coronavirus-related health and safety concerns for runners, spectators, volunteers and staff.

"Cancelling this year's TCS New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective," NYRR chief executive Michael Capiraso.

The 26.2-mile race (42km), which traverses all five boroughs of the city and had 53,640 finishers in 2019, is the second of the six World Marathon Majors to be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Boston Marathon, originally due to be held in April and then postponed until September, was cancelled for the first time in its history.

The Tokyo Marathon went ahead on March 1 with elite runners only, London was postponed to October. 4 from April 26 and Berlin organisers said their race will not got ahead in September but did not say if it would be postponed or cancelled altogether.

The Chicago Marathon has not announced any changes to their scheduled event in October.

Berlin organisers announced the cancellation of their race shortly after their New York counterparts.

The race was originally scheduled for September 26-27 but organisers had already said it could not go ahead then because of Germany's ban on public gatherings of more than 5,000 people until October 24.

To date, 11 world records have been set over the streets of the German capital.

"Over the past weeks, we have put a lot of commitment and effort into examining all options for holding the BMW Berlin-Marathon 2020 under the given conditions," Berlin organisers said.

"We worked hard on the development of a hygiene concept and held countless discussions with our experts, the responsible authorities and service providers, among others."

The statement said a comprehensive feasibility analysis showed, however, that the marathon could not be held at a later date this year either.

Weather conditions and shorter days would make it difficult and there was also uncertainty about the regulations after October.

"The question of whether athletes will be able to travel internationally again by then can also not yet be answered," said Juergen Lock, managing director of SCC Events.