ADDIS ABEBA – An Ethiopian runner had to pull out of the London Marathon after she and the coach of two other elite marathoners tested positive for the coronavirus, reported Associated Press on Tuesday.
Degitu Azimeraw, who won the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon, and coach Haji Adilo tested positive in Ethiopia.
“As a result (of the positive tests), they didn´t get on the plane,” London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher said in a conference call ahead of Sunday’s race.
Haji is the coach of Ethiopian runners Shura Kitata and Alemu Megertu, both of whom will remain in the race because there was no “face-to-face contact” with their coach in the past two weeks, Brasher said.
According to AP, the London race has all the trappings of a 2020 sporting event: hotel bubble for athletes, competition modifications and no spectators.
Athletes and their coaches are staying at a hotel reserved only for them outside London.
Protocols required virus testing before athletes left for London and on the day of their arrival. They´ll also be tested on Friday.
Only one other World Marathon Major – Tokyo – was held this year as Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York all canceled because of the pandemic.
All eyes will be on the 35-year-old Eliud Kipchoge as he seeks his fifth London victory. The Kenyan is the world record holder (2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds) who last year became the first person to run a marathon distance in under 2 hours, in an unofficial exhibition.
Kipchoge´s top challenger is expected to be Kenenisa Bekele, a three-time Olympic champion on the track. The 38-year-old Ethiopian won the 2019 Berlin Marathon in a time that was only 2 seconds off
Kipchoge´s world record set the year before, also in Berlin.
“We have, we believe, some athletes in great shape, but they’ve all been training in unique conditions, so it is probably the most difficult marathon to predict,” Brasher said.
Another modification is prize money. Associated Press says the men´s and women´s winners each get $30,000, down from $55,000 last year, excluding a potential bonus of $125,000 for the men´s and women´s winner if they set a world record.
Featured Image: Degitu was hoping to challenge world record holder Brigid Kosgei in the women’s elite-only race in London [Photo File/Getty Image]