Empty streets in Tokyo Marathon Due to Coronavirus

This entry was written before the rescheduling of the Olympics.

On February 17, the Tokyo marathon saw a major decrease in both participants and spectators due to the coronavirus. The mass participation race portion of the event which usually attracts around 38,000 athletes was cancelled leaving only the elite racers to remain (a couple hundred athletes). Despite the massive decrease in participants and spectators there were still many personal bests and records set at the event, including Israel’s Lonah Salpeter, took more than two minutes off the women’s course record at Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon with a time of 2:17:45.

Tweet from Derek Momodu displaying the massive difference in the amount of participants at the Tokyo Marathon today versus the marathon one year ago.

Many precautions were taken during the event as spectators were encouraged to avoid gathering on the course, but rather to follows the race through TV or radio. As well as both athletes and event staff were given masks and hand sanitizers.

The virus could also not only have an impact on the marathon, but the 2020 Olympics as well. Tokyo is set to host the upcoming Olympics from July 24th to August 9th. The torch relay has already been set back from its original start date as a result of the virus, however conversation of calling off events have not been announced.

When looking toward the possibility of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics happening it is important for Japan to take into account the impact the coronavirus has had on the Tokyo marathon. An article looking at how the Olympics can hurt host cities shows how the Olympics can create problems such as debt, environmental problems, militarization of public space and even rapid gentrification. The article uses the Rio Olympics as an example stating that “Some 22,000 families were evicted in the lead up to the games. Meanwhile, more than 2,500 people have been killed by police in the city since it was awarded the games in 2009.” With the rapid spread of the coronavirus it is important to look at the impact mega-sporting events such as the Olympics can have on a host city.


Featured Image: Spectators seen wearing masks in the empty streets during the Tokyo Marathon (Source: AP Associated Press)

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