(17-Sep) -- The Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced today that the 2021 Tokyo Marathon, which had been postponed from February 28, to October 17, due to the pandemic, would not be held this year. Instead, organizers plan to bring the race back in 2022 on Sunday, March 6, in the event's traditional time frame.
"Even only a month away from the event, Tokyo is still under a state of emergency," read a statement from race officials. "With the difficulty to forecast the trend of COVID-19 and involved restrictions on mobility, it is decided at today's board meeting that the Tokyo Marathon 2021 (originally scheduled for Sunday, October 17) will be postponed to Sunday, March 6, 2022."
The Tokyo Marathon is one of the six commercial races of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, the world's top series of marathon events. Because of the pandemic, all six of these events in 2021 were to be held in the fall season for the first time. The other five events --BMW Berlin Marathon (September 26), Virgin Money London Marathon (October 3), Bank of America Chicago Marathon (October 10), Boston Marathon (October 11), and TCS New York City Marathon (November 7)-- are still scheduled to go forward as in-person events.
Athletes who entered the 2021 Tokyo event will be able to use those same entries to run the race in 2022, organizers said. However, if runners do not wish to run in March, 2022, they can cancel their entries and receive a refund of their entry fees (less a small processing fee). Runners who had registered for the original March, 2022, race will receive instructions next month about how their entries will be handled.
The 2020 Tokyo Marathon was held on schedule on Sunday, March 1, just before the global pandemic shutdown. However, participation was limited to elite athletes and the race had a total of 151 finishers. Today's announcement means that there will be no mass marathon in Tokyo for two consecutive years.
Despite having a coronavirus infection rate of just 5.3 per 100,000 (the USA is eight times higher, according to the New York Times), most mass-participation running events in Japan have been cancelled this year including the Matsue Women's Half-Marathon, Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon, Sendai International Half-Marathon, Hokodate Half-Marathon, Shibetsu Half-Marathon, and Hokkaido Marathon. The elite-only Fukuoka Marathon is still planned for Sunday, December 5, but that will be the last edition of what has been one of the world's most prestigious marathon. The race was first held in 1947 and has been held for 74 consecutive years.