The 2020 Comrades Marathon in South Africa has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Athletics South Africa (ASA) announced on Thursday.
In April, the race, which was due to be staged on June 14, was postponed indefinitely as organisers said they would wait for conditions under the pandemic to be manageable under government guidance.
The race will instead be held next year with organisers and will also coincide with the centenary celebrations of the founding of the Comrades Marathon Association.
“Following long discussion with the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) Board and KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA), Athletics South Africa has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Comrades Marathon,” a statement from ASA read in part.
ASA President Aleck Skhosana said the decision to cancel the marathon was a lengthy and difficult one to make.
“With the race’s rich history, its powerful nation-building attributes and contribution towards social cohesion, as well as its immense economic impact, it would have been premature to rush into an outright cancellation sooner. However, we believe we have jointly arrived at the correct decision to protect the health and safety of all concerned as well as the lives of our fellow South Africans.”
CMA Chairperson Cheryl Winn said the decision to cancel the race would come as a great disappointment to thousands of runners who had been holding out hope that the race would somehow proceed.
According to ASA, every South African entrant will not be refunded their entry fee but will instead receive a set of complimentary items, which includes a t-shirt and goodie bag.
ASA added that all foreign entries will be deferred to the races in 2021 or 2022 depending upon the runner’s wish. In addition, foreign athletes will also have the option of availing their 2020 entry for substitution in 2021 only.
The Comrades Marathon, the world’s oldest and largest Ultramarathon, runs for 89 kilometres (55 miles) between Durban and Pietermaritzburg and draws up to 20,000 runners from around the world.
The race has previously been cancelled between 1941 and 1945 for the duration of World War II as organisers, runners and supporters stood in solidarity with all those who suffered the horrors and atrocities of war.