Ethiopia’s Birhanu wins Tokyo marathon amid COVID-19 fears
Published: Mar 01, 2020 06:43 PM
Birhanu Legese of Ethiopia won the virus-­hit Tokyo marathon reduced from a mass participation event of 38,000 runners to just elite athletes on Sunday because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The race, which doubled up as a trial for Japanese athletes hoping to run in their home Tokyo Olympics later this year, was limited to 200 participants including wheelchair racers.

Legese won his second successive ­Tokyo marathon in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 15 seconds with Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel winning the women's event in 2:17.45.

The Tokyo marathon is one of the biggest sporting events to be affected by the coronavirus in Japan, with the Olympic Games opening ceremony less than five months away.

The International Tennis Federation has said Japan's home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador in Miki next weekend will be played behind closed doors.

The Japanese Football Association has postponed all top-flight J-League matches until March 15.

The International Olympic Committee said last week it was "fully committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned, despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak.

The viral outbreak across Japan and dozens of other countries has fuelled concerns about the Summer Games, which opens on July 24, after sports events were  postponed or cancelled.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped up national measures to contain the virus, calling on organizers of large events to consider cancelling or delaying them.

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