March 13, 2020 / 5:18 PM / in 4 months

London marathon postponed to October due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - London Marathon - London, Britain - April 28, 2019 General view at the finish of the London marathon REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The annual London marathon which was due to take place on April 26 has been postponed to Oct. 4 because of coronavirus, the organizers said on Friday, marking the latest in a long line of major international sport events disrupted by the pandemic.

“The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of COVID-19 and public health is everyone’s priority,” event director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who unofficially broke the two-hour marathon barrier in Vienna last October, welcomed the news.

“I fully respect the decision made by the organization as safeguarding the health of the world always takes our top priority,” he wrote on Twitter.

“To the thousands of runners who with me have devoted the last months of our lives towards this goal I would like to say: Be proud of the work you have put into this journey, keep smiling and seek your next goal.”

The postponement delays the highly-anticipated showdown between Kipchoge and Ethiopian rival Kenenisa Bekele, the only men to go under two hours, two minutes for the distance.

The marathon was intended to be an Olympic qualifying event for Team GB. British Athletics said it would hold a separate marathon trial for the Tokyo Games “in a closed location, with limited numbers” potentially around April 25 to 27.

The Boston Marathon, another one of the six World Marathon Majors, also announced its postponement on Friday, rescheduling from April 20 to mid-September.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, additional reporting by Omar Mohammed and Amy Tennery; editing by Stephen Addison and Ken Ferris

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