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Race news Tokyo Marathon

07 October 2020, 9am

Announcement expected on Friday

Tokyo “will be run in autumn 2021 with full field”

by Brett Larner

An involved source reports that the 2021 Tokyo Marathon, previously scheduled for 7 March, has been moved to an autumn date next year with a full field size of 38,000.

The postponement is a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis but the organisers do not plan to reduce the size of the event. The decision has been approved by the board of directors of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation and a formal announcement is expected to be made on 9 October.

The move puts the 2021 Tokyo Marathon in the aftermath of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. According to the source, the original March date was seen as simply not feasible given the current status of the coronavirus crisis. The move will allow the race to be held without a reduction in the number of participants. The Foundation was keen not to reduce the field for a second-straight year. One consequence of the coronavirus crisis has been a reduction in the event’s income from sponsors.

This year’s Tokyo Marathon in March was held as an elite-only competition as the mass-participation race was cancelled just two weeks beforehand, with entrants given the option of shifting their entries to either 2021 or 2022. Since then, marathons and road races all across the country have cancelled, announced one-year postponements, or scaled down the size of their events. As the largest marathon in Japan an announcement that Tokyo plans to go ahead with a full field may help to slow down this domino effect.

The Foundation originally planned to make a final decision about next year’s race by August of this year. That decision was delayed in order to make it possible to make a decision informed by the latest government policies regarding public events. Government policies currently call for events to reduce the maximum number of people present by 50% through the end of November, with the subsequent level still under study. Based upon that timeline and its impact on preparations the Tokyo Marathon organizers decided the planned spring date was not feasible. Foundation spokespeople had previously said that they were examining all options but did not plan to hold another elite-only race.

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