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Race news Vienna City Marathon

04 February 2021, 4pm

Race organisers’ hopes for reopening

The view from Vienna

by Andreas Maier

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“As professional [race] organisers, we are ready to conduct our events in a safe manner,” says Vienna City Marathon Race Director Wolfgang Konrad. “As Austria’s largest running organiser we are a partner for an optimistic and responsible [solution].”

Sport-Austria President Hans Niessl and environmental doctor Hans-Peter Hutter recently emphasised the importance of sport for health. “It is long overdue to take the next step,” said Hutter at a media meeting that called for club sports to be opened up. A lack of exercise and inactivity lead to negative effects and long-term consequences for physical mental health.

Running events are the greatest motivational driver for people to exercise regularly, to keep fit, to find physical and mental balance and to prevent damage to health. “We understand that stable openings depend on the overall situation. Running events should be in the front row when making a comeback,” says Konrad.

Outdoor active sports events without direct physical contact should be allowed again in a step-by-step plan. A clear regulatory distinction is required from passive events with spectators. Previous Covid-19 regulations have always differentiated events according to whether “marked and assigned seats” are available or not. When it comes to the maximum number of persons, the legislature has thought of spectators, not active participants. This categorisation does not do justice to the character of active sports events. Measures such as rapid tests and clear Covid-19 prevention concepts should enable a step-by-step return to competition.


  • Running events take place entirely outdoors.
  • Sports practice is contactless.
  • The movement is only in one direction.
  • It can be proven that distancing of under one metre at events lasts only for an average of 18 seconds (from measurements with community distance markers at a running event of the Austrian Women’s Run on 26 September 2020)
  • Personal contact details of the participants are known in full and in accordance with the GDPR. Communication is possible directly and at any time.

Positive impacts

  • Active sports events promote the willingness to test and vaccinate the participants.
  • Active sports events are what motivates our society to exercise, keep fit, find physical and psychological balance and prevent damage to health.
  • Running events are open to everyone without restriction by age, gender, origin, education, income, …
  • Many organisers deliberately set up activities to support charity organisations and promote social inclusion.
  • Running events combine popular and professional sports.
  • When the number of participants returns, running events generate strong economic effects for trade, tourism, communities and associations.

Organisers conscientiously implement preventative measures

  • Willingness to take mandatory quick tests before a competition (“entry tests”)
  • Step-by-step plan for the number of participants after the lockdown
  • Spatial and temporal optimisation of starting procedures
  • Control systems and control of the participants before and after the run
  • Mask requirement in defined areas including outdoors
  • No cloakrooms, showers, etc. – as long as this is necessary for prevention reasons.
  • Runners are used to complying with Covid-19 rules. Several small running events took place in Austria during the summer and autumn of 2020 where the guidelines were followed with great sensitivity.

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