General runners express concerns on social media after Tokyo Marathon makes decision to restrict entry to elite athletes

As Japan increases its efforts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19, organizers of the Tokyo Marathon have made the decision to reduce the number of this year’s race participants, allowing only elite athletes to compete, and take part in the upcoming Olympic qualifying event.

The marathon, which has been held annually since 2007, has cut the 38,000 people in the “general entry” category who were scheduled to run on March 1 because of the spread of the virus outbreak, which has already affected numerous other sporting events as stated by Kyodo News.

Entry to the race was gained by a lottery, not dissimilar to the lottery held for tickets of the Olympics, and many have taken to social media to question why elite runners are being allowed to compete whilst they are cut from the race.

According to Kyodo News, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has expressed her sympathies for the general category runners but has stated that the decision was necessary for public safety. She stated, "To all the general entry runners who felt joy at being selected, we apologize, but these restrictions are unavoidable".

General runners that were selected to compete in the Tokyo Marathon 2020 will automatically be eligible for next years event. However, the Tokyo Marathon organizers have said that entry fees for this year's cancelled event will not be refunded and that if runners choose to run next year, they will need to pay a separate fee. As expected, many runners are upset with the decision of no refunds and have questioned why they will need to pay another fee for next year's event on twitter.

When the first announcement was made that runners residing in China would not be allowed to compete due to travel restrictions, the event organizers decided that runners from China would not need to re-pay entry fees for next year's event. The recent decision barring general entry runners from 2020’s race and the requiring of repayment for next year's event has left many people angry.

The Tokyo Marathon 2020 is being held as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, which is planned to go ahead despite the spread of the coronavirus. This year's marathon elite category includes 176 runners and 30 wheelchair athletes.

The event is set to start outside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku at 9:05 am on March 1.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.