Kosgei, Kipchoge and other elites will be placed in a bubble with strict guidelines on testing, travel and competing
Organisers of the Virgin Money London Marathon have announced that this year’s race, a historic elite-only event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place on a closed-loop circuit around St James’ Park in central London, with all athletes protected in a ‘biosecure bubble’.
Special permission has been granted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to allow athletes and support staff to travel and compete in what organisers describe as a biosecure bubble, with strict guidelines on testing, travel, accommodation and competition.
The athletes will be tested for COVID-19 four days before travelling to London and again on arrival, with testing to continue until the Friday before race day. Any runners who test positive will placed in quarantine and won’t be able to participate in the event. A hotel outside London will be used as a base, exclusively reserved for athletes and race support staff, with 40 acres of training ground to warm up before the marathon itself. All its residents will be required to follow social distancing rules and will have to wear face masks whenever they leave their rooms, with the exception of training and eating.
If athletes like Brigid Kosgei, Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele remain COVID-free then we can expect to see some exciting athletics, as Kosgei attempts to defend her women’s world record while Kipchoge and Bekele battle it out for a sub-two-hour win. The best wheelchair athletes in the world, including Manuela Schär and Daniel Romanchuk, should also be taking part as long as they pass the regular virus testing.
Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Government, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), The Mayor of London, The Royal Parks and all our stakeholders for helping us put on the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon for elite athletes. Sports fans all over the world are eagerly anticipating these great races in this unique environment.
“It is our duty and responsibility to ensure this event is held in a safe and secure environment. We have looked at other examples and taken learnings from other sports which have returned to action as we developed our detailed plans for this biosecure bubble around the event.
“By finding a hotel for exclusive use and putting in place the strict testing, hygiene and security measures to protect the bubble, we are confident we have created the safest environment possible for everyone.”
The course, which will comprise 19 x 2.15 kilometre clockwise laps of St James’s Park plus an extra 1345m to the finish line in its traditional place on The Mall, will be closed to the public. Instead of the usual line of spectators, a team from the BBC will provide 8 hours of live coverage so viewers at home can keep up with the event.