The annual Shanghai International Marathon will be held on November 29, the event's organizer announced on Thursday. 9,000 runners are expected to run in the event, compared to the 38,000 runners in previous years. Chinese experts said the event offers a positive outlook to the general public and view it a "new start" in the post-coronavirus era.
To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, the event, which begins at 7 am at Shanghai's landmark the Bund, will only include the full marathon course, with the regular 10-kilometer course and 5.5-kilometer healthy running project cancelled. Overseas runners have not been invited to join the event either.
It is reasonable for Shanghai to hold the event right now even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in other parts of the world, given that most Chinese cities withstood the "test" of the COVID-19 pandemic during the recent National Day holidays, Zhang Wenhong, China's leading infectious disease specialist and head of the Shanghai COVID-19 medical team, said in a video released on Thursday.
"The marathon will not be interrupted due to the pandemic, which I think is very encouraging to all our epidemic control personnel and people in China, and to the epidemic control measures that we have been adhering to all the time," Zhang said.
"Actually, hosting a marathon here could be a new 'starting point' for us," Zhang added.
To reduce coronavirus-related infection risks during the event, it will only accept applicants from low-risk areas, the organizer said.
What's more, the event's organizing committee will conduct a big data screening of participants every two weeks after their registration.
If a place where a runner has visited is found to have become a medium- or high-risk area before the competition, the runner's qualification will be automatically cancelled and their registration fee refunded.
All runners are required to submit nucleic acid test reports and make sure their health codes are green; that is, they are healthy.
The event will also implement a circuit breaker mechanism, under which if someone tests positive during the event, it will be stopped as soon as possible, according to Zhou Jin, general manager of the event operator Donghao Lansheng Group, quoted by the Paper.
Notably, Zhang calls for people to remain vigilant for the coronavirus and abide by epidemic control rules — ensure social distancing, wear masks in public spaces and avoid crowds — as China has entered into a new normalcy in epidemic control.
The winner of the full marathon this year will be rewarded with 150,000 yuan ($22,515), and those ranked second to eighth will win 100,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan, according to the competition rules released on the event's official website.
As one of the most iconic events in China's marathon calendar, the Shanghai Marathon is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.