Tokyo Marathon restricts entry over coronavirus outbreak

Over 38,000 people had been due to compete in the marathon in March. Photo by David Mareuil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The organisers of the Tokyo Marathon have announced that the March 1 race will be closed to regular participants and open only to elite athletes because of coronavirus fears.

More than 38,000 people were due to take part in the race, but the announcement on Monday means that competitors will be limited to a couple of hundred.

"We have been preparing for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 (Sunday, March 1) while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that case of COVID-19 has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated," organisers said in a statement.

Organisers had previously asked runners from China to defer their entries until 2021 due to the outbreak of the virus.

The option of deferring entry was also granted to everyone affected by Monday's announcement; however, runners are still required to pay the entry fees for the 2021 event.

The marathon is the latest in a long line of sports events to be affected by the outbreak. Most notably, the Indoor World Athletics Championships in Nanjing and the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai were both postponed.

More than 70,000 people have contracted the disease in China and more than 1,700 people there have died.