Athletics

Soweto Marathon cancelled over Covid-19 fears

Soweto Marathon (Supplied)
Soweto Marathon (Supplied)

After a thorough review of the Covid-19 health risks posed by large events and gatherings, organisers and sponsors of the Soweto Marathon have confirmed that the 2020 edition has been cancelled.

The race was due to take place on Sunday, 1 November.

The Soweto Marathon is just the latest in a string of marathons and ultra-marathons to have been cancelled in the country, including the Two Oceans Marathon in April and the Comrades Marathon which was due to be held last weekend, but instead went ahead with a successful 'virtual' race which attracted around 43 500 runners.

READ | First 'virtual Comrades' a huge success as record numbers take part

Soweto Marathon Trust chairperson Sello Khunou said that calling off South Africa’s biggest one-day road running event, fondly known as the 'People’s Race', was not an easy decision.

"We’re deeply disappointed at not being able to host the 27th edition of this iconic annual event," he said in a statement.

“The People’s Race has always been a great celebration of our people’s strong spirit, but with the Covid-19 pandemic expected to peak only around September this year, we cannot take the risk of hosting 40 000 people on 1 November, which is too soon thereafter."

Vuyo Lee, chief marketing officer at Old Mutual, the title sponsor of the race, supported the decision.

"As a responsible business, we have a duty of care to all our stakeholders and we must do whatever we can to help curb the spread of the pandemic, and protect the health and safety of our people," she said. "Much as we love the People’s Race and its unique celebration of iconic locations in Soweto, the struggle against Covid-19 is a battle that can only be won by social distancing and staying away from crowds as much as possible."

"The Soweto Marathon is so much more than just a road race. It’s a celebration of our history, our heritage, and our country and a reminder to runners that resilience, perseverance, and commitment are key to success, even when times are tough, and the road is long," Khunou added.

"I would like to thank our sponsors who stood behind our decision wholeheartedly. We will be bigger and better come 2021 when the glorious Soweto and her people will host our athlete’s once again."

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