The 2020 Tokyo Marathon is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus (Only Elites Will Run)

Written by Charlie

The 2020 Tokyo Marathon is cancelled to all but 200-ish elite runners. This move was made in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Find out more.

The Tokyo Marathon is one of the six World Marathon Majors and it hit a major blow to tens of thousands of runners today with the news that the 2020 Tokyo Marathon is cancelled. The cause? The coronavirus which the world health community has not been able to stop – yet.

The 2020 Tokyo Marathon Cancelled

Link: 2020 Tokyo Marathon

This race was due to take place March 1, 2020 but as of this weekend, it is cancelled for all but the elite runners that have entered in that category. This cancellation is due to the coronavirus.

While the majority of cases are still in China, there certainly is fear of it spreading en masse beyond the Chinese borders and there have been more cases in Japan. Lining up tens of thousands of people from all over the world (and especially Asia) in a tight area could cause the spreading to occur.

Another thing is that even though running is a healthy sport, the body does break down during a marathon and many runners may be even more susceptible to catching something when their immune system is down post-race.

According to Japan Running News (which is where I learned of the cancellation), the the race organizers had already asked 1,800 Chinese participants to refrain from taking part in the event as of February 1. Now, they are also considering scaling back the 11,000 volunteer army as well, especially since there are only 200 runners that will be toeing the line March 1.

Huge Disappointment – But, Warranted?

While there have been major marathons that have cancelled in the past due to weather issues, this is one cancellation that is certainly hurting a lot of runners. With the race just two weeks off, all the runners would likely have had travel plans secured – and likely non-refundable ones. This means they are not only missing out on running a marathon (and this one is a bucket list for many) but also potentially losing the money on their travel plans (should they choose to not go).

Now What?

If you were planning on running the Tokyo Marathon had have not yet received any communication, visit this page. It is possible to defer to 2021 but you will still need to pay the entry fee for 2021 as well. Even worse is that they have decided that they will not issue refunds for the 2020 Tokyo Marathon entry fees. With the race this close and this being such a major event, they would have already made a lot of cash outlays to prepare.

But, that is still a huge blow on top of the missed opportunity to run the Tokyo Marathon. These are not cheap (about $165 for non-Japanese residents).

How Will This Impact the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo?

With many running events being cancelled or being considered to be cancelled (such as the Nagoya Marathon), this certainly has many people wondering how this will impact the Summer Olympics which are just 5 short months away.

Obviously, no decisions would be made this far in advance but you know this virus has many people in the organizing committees worried. Also, what about other marathons coming up soon? In April, we have London, Paris, and Boston. Will organizers take similar steps?

Were you planning on running the 2020 Tokyo Marathon?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.