Boston Marathon

Here’s the latest on the 2020 Boston Marathon in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak

"I’m going to make some very unpopular decisions, but if it keeps people safe, I can live with that."

The 2019 Boston Marathon. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

The Boston Athletic Association said Thursday that “details will be forthcoming” about the state of the 2020 Boston Marathon, as organizers reportedly consider postponing the historic race amid the “rapidly evolving” coronavirus pandemic.

And in a CBS interview Thursday afternoon, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh acknowledged the conversations about a potential postponement, but said “everything is on the table.” Walsh said he expected plans to be announced within 48 hours.

“I think you have to be really careful here,” he said.

The 124th edition of the marathon — which regularly attracts more than 30,000 runners and up to 1 million spectators — is currently scheduled for April 20. The race has never been canceled.


The Boston Globe first reported Thursday morning that local officials in Boston and other communities along the 26.2-mile route are closing in on a plan to postpone the marathon until the fall, as an alternative to canceling the event. WCVB and WBZ-TV subsequently reported Thursday afternoon that the decision has been made to postpone the race, though the new date has yet to be set.

While organizers would reportedly prefer to reschedule the marathon for a long weekend, there are some logistical conflicts; Labor Day would be too challenging because of college move-in weekend, and the Chicago Marathon is currently scheduled during Columbus Day weekend. According to the Globe, officials are even exploring the idea of creating a new Massachusetts state holiday on a Monday in September. Organizers have said they want to ensure “a safe and successful Boston Marathon.”


“The Boston Athletic Association continues to meet and work closely with city and state officials involved in the Boston Marathon,” the BAA said in their statement Thursday. “Our collective priority is the health and safety of residents, participants, and all who come to Massachusetts for this worldwide event.”

The news comes amid aggressive new efforts announced Wednesday night to slow the spread of the disease in the United States, including President Donald Trump’s 30-day ban on most travel from Europe and the NBA’s decision to suspend its season, among other canceled sporting events and gatherings. The NHL, MLS, and several European leagues followed suit Thursday, suspending their regular seasons.


According to the Globe, a third of the 31,000 runners currently registered for next month’s Boston Marathon are from outside the United States, representing 119 other countries.

A mounting list of major international marathons originally scheduled this spring have already been canceled, postponed, or restricted to elite runners (the latter of which Walsh says is not being considered for the Boston Marathon). Organizers have also canceled a number of upcoming local conferences and events in the Boston area, including the St. Patrick’s Day parade Sunday in South Boston.

However, the Boston Marathon has a uniquely big impact. Walsh told reporters earlier this week that the annual race generates $211 million for Boston’s economy, as well as $36 million for charities. Given that fact, the mayor said he would prefer the marathon be postponed than canceled, if it can’t happen next month.

“I’m going to make some very unpopular decisions, but if it keeps people safe, I can live with that,” Walsh said Thursday.


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