14:56 GMT16 July 2020
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    The annual Boston Marathon is a marathon event that is held across several cities in greater Boston, eastern Massachusetts. Throughout the entirety of its history, the event has never been cancelled.

    The 124th Boston Marathon will take place this year as a virtual event following orders from Mayor Martin Walsh to cancel the run amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced on Thursday that the Boston Marathon "will be complemented" by other virtual events in the second week of September.

    ​The decision marks the first cancellation in the 124-year history of the marathon, although other events will take place to ensure the continuation of the tradition of the event.

    "Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters", said Tom Grilk, BAA chief executive.

    "While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon", he added.

    Grilk said during the press conference Thursday that "the spirit of the Boston Marathon is to be strong and to be smart", explaining that "you need to have the strength, wisdom, and guidance from public officials to do what's right".

    Those who planned to participate in the marathon on the original 20 April date will be provided with free entry and can take part in the "virtual alternative" for the 124th Boston Marathon, which is now set to take place from 7 - 14 September.

    Participants of the 2020 virtual marathon must finish the 26.2-mile distance in six hours or less and provide evidence of completion to the BAA.

    An official Boston Marathon program, a t-shirt, a medal, and a runner's bib will be rewarded for completing the virtual race.

    The marathon was delayed in March over concerns by authorities as the coronavirus outbreak swept across the country.

    The Boston Marathon acts as a symbol of the city for locals and tourists as well as the marathon runners from around the country and the world who make the journey to take part.

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    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, cancellation, 2020, Boston Marathon
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