No vying for a place in Tokyo Marathon

A combination photo juxtaposing the small number of participants at this year's Tokyo Marathon (left), which took place on Sunday, with last year's packed affair.

This year's edition of the race was more exclusive as organisers drastically reduced the number of runners and strongly discouraged the public from attending the marathon over fears of the spread of the coronavirus.

The annual marathon, which should have seen 38,000 amateur participants compete this year - many of whom had entered via lottery - was scaled back to just a few hundred professional athletes.

According to the organisers, around 72,000 spectators watched along the route in central Tokyo, down from roughly 690,000 last year. Many of them wore protective face masks as they cheered.

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics just four months away, many are speculating that the heavily downsized Tokyo Marathon is a sign of how a coronavirus-hit Olympic Games could play out.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2020, with the headline 'No vying for a place in Tokyo Marathon'. Print Edition | Subscribe