China Postpones Third Marathon 85 Days Before Olympics

China Postpones Third Marathon 85 Days Before Olympics

Organizers of the 2021 Shanghai Marathon — originally scheduled for November 28 — announced Tuesday they have postponed the race indefinitely, citing China’s latest coronavirus epidemic.

“Today, we’ve chosen to be cautious, chosen to put the health of runners and [the] city’s citizens first,” organizers of the marathon wrote in a notice posted to the event’s official website on November 9.

The statement said a new date for the run would be announced sometime “in the future.” Participants already registered for the marathon “were given the opportunity either to give up their place or hold it until 2022,” Reuters reported on November 10. Event organizers did not disclose how many runners were due to compete in this year’s race but said roughly 9,000 took part in the 2020 Shanghai Marathon.

Shanghai is China’s most populous urban center and has a population of nearly 28 million. Two other major Chinese cities — Wuhan and Beijing — indefinitely postponed their own annual marathons on October 24 and October 31, respectively, citing a nationwide resurgence of coronavirus.

Organizers of the 2021 Beijing Marathon said they expected the event to draw 30,000 participants to China’s national capital — home to nearly 21 million people — by late October. The 2021 Wuhan Marathon hoped to attract 26,000 participants to the central Chinese city of almost 8.5 million.

Participants compete during the 2021 Beijing Half Marathon at Tiananmen Square on April 24, 2021, in Beijing, China. More than 10,000 people participated in the race. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The indefinite postponement of three major Chinese sporting events over the past month casts doubt over China’s ability to successfully host the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to start in Beijing in just 85 days.

China’s coronavirus caseload has surged since October 17, when state health officials first detected the nation’s latest outbreak of the disease. Coronavirus infections have spread to at least 20 Chinese provinces since then, triggering nationwide lockdowns and travel restrictions. China’s ruling Communist Party claims the epidemic sparked after a Shanghai-based tour group traveled to China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in early October. Members of the group allegedly contracted coronavirus while visiting the Inner Mongolia region of Ejin Banner, which serves as a port city between China and Mongolia.

“Health experts noted that exchanges of people and goods at the China-Mongolia port in Ejin Banner are highly likely to be the source of this round of infections, as almost all domestically transmitted cases were from tour groups,” the Global Times reported on October 25.

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games are expected to start on February 4 and continue through February 20. It remains unknown how Beijing plans to accommodate the event if China’s current coronavirus epidemic continues to proliferate through February.

Organizers of the Winter Games announced on November 9 that Beijing’s largest Olympic Village was now “fully operational” and would open to guests on January 27, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 26: People wear protective masks as they walk front the logos of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival on February 26, 2021 in Beijing, China. The Festival comes at the final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

People wear protective masks as they walk past the logos of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival on February 26, 2021, in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

“The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games will offer three official residential areas, with the largest situated near the Bird’s Nest Stadium in a northern area of the Chinese capital,” according to the newspaper.

Two smaller residential complexes “will open soon” in Beijing’s northwestern Yanqing District and in the co-host city of Zhangjiakou in neighboring Hebei province, the SCMP revealed.

Beijing’s main Olympic Village “consists of 20 residential buildings and … will serve as an apartment complex after the Games,” according to the newspaper.

The building “covers a total floor area of 330,000 square meters” and contains “four types of suites ranging from 135 to 220 square meters in size,” the state-run Global Times reported on November 9.

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[By: Gabrielle Reyes

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