The 2020 Boston Marathon has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history due to COVID-19, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) said on Thursday.
The BAA added that it would hold a “virtual event” instead and that all participants would receive a finisher’s medal if they can prove they had run the 42 kilometer distance within six hours.
The marathon had earlier been postponed from April to September 14 due to the virus.
“There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity. And while our goal and hope was to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or anytime this year,” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said.
“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” BAA CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement.
The BAA said that all participants will be offered a full refund of their entry fees.
“It was a forward-thinking decision, and it was the right decision. It helped us set the tone for major decisions nationwide, so we should all be proud of that. It became clear as this crisis developed that September 14 was less and less plausible,” Walsh said.
The death toll from the United States passed the 100,000 mark on Wednesday, the highest number of deaths of any country or region.
The 2021 Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 19.