COMRADES MARATHON will not happen this year.
This was the assurance from the president of Athletics of SA Aleck Skhosana, following weeks of back and forth on whether the race will see the light of the day, as a result of the deadly Coronavirus that has spread worldwide and continues to claim lives.
Known as the ‘Human Race’ it was scheduled for June 14 in KwaZulu Natal.
Comrades Marathon Assoc chairperson Cheryl Winn released a statement last week: “With nearly three months to go to Comrades 2020‚ the CMA board has decided that it is premature to postpone this year’s Comrades Marathon.
“We will however continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and will make a decision by 17 April, depending upon how the situation evolves, on whether to postpone the Comrades 2020 to a date late.”
That did not sit well with both ASA and office of sport and recreation minister Nathi Mthethwa that both agreed the marathon won’t go ahead.
The Comrades Marathon has an entry of 25 000 runners, at least 1 000 of which are foreign nationals.
Whether the 2020 Comrades Marathon goes ahead or not, remains to be seen. This year’s race is due to be the 95th edition and is scheduled to be a ‘Down Run’ from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
It will be the 47th ‘Down Run’ in Comrades history.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed by one year because of coronavirus, says International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound.
It comes after the chairman of the British Olympic Association said Great Britain would be unlikely to send a team to Tokyo this summer.
Australia and Canada have already said they will not compete in Japan.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided.”
“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on 24 July, that much I know.”
The International Olympic Committee has given itself four weeks to decide on the future of this summer’s Games, but veteran IOC member Pound says a decision will be announced soon.
“It will come in stages,” he said.
“We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”
Canada and Australia had already announced their decision to withdraw from this summer’s Games when the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Hugh Robertson, said he expected Britain to be “joining shortly”.
“We can’t see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted,” said Robertson. “I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly.”
As of Sunday, there had been 5,683 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, with 281 deaths.
The UK government has urged the public to follow advice on social distancing, with MPs debating stricter measures to ensure people comply.
“I think it is very simple. If the virus continues as predicted by the government, I don’t think there is any way we can send a team,” Robertson told Sky Sports News.
“First, I don’t see any way that the athletes and Team GB could be ready by then. Elite training facilities are perfectly understandably and quite correctly closed around the country, so there is no way they could undertake the preparation they need to get ready for the Games.
“Secondly, there is the appropriateness of holding an Olympic Games at a time like this. We are actually in a process where we are talking to all our sports. We will complete that over the next couple of days.
“We have already said to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that we think their four-week pause is absolutely the right thing to do.”
On Sunday, Canada became the first major country to withdraw from this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics.
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committee said it had taken “the difficult decision” to pull out after consulting athletes, sports groups, and the government.
It then “urgently called” on the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee and the World Health Organization to postpone the Games for a year.
“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July,” Australia chef de mission Ian Chesterman said on Monday.
“Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them.”
Image (Comrades Marathon’s future hangs in the balance).