Coronavirus forces Boston Marathon to go virtual — and the city could lose $200M

Boston Marathon canceled for 2020

The iconic Boston Marathon, which is usually held in April but was initially delayed to September, has been canceled for this year.

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Erring on the side of caution due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials have moved the Boston Marathon from the streets to a virtual format. And the city’s economy could be left at the starting line.

Rather than a starter's pistol signaling the beginning of the 124th running of one of the world's best-known road races, runners will be using an app that will track self-designed 26.2-mile courses to emulate the Boston Marathon. Rules remain the same no matter where the runners are: six-hours to complete the distance,

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“Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” Tom Grilk, chief executive officer of the Boston Athletic Association, said in a statement. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon.”

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Still, the city could lose out $200 million expected to be pumped into the economy by more than 30,000 runners and guests who attend, as well as though fundraising and media-related spending, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau’s economic impact summary reports. The 122nd and 123rd races each garnered more than $200 million.

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The 2020 Boston Marathon was originally scheduled for April 20 before being pushed back to Sept. 14 by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

"It became clear as this crisis developed that Sept. 14 was less and less plausible," Walsh said at a news conference. "This is a challenge, but meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about. It's a symbol of our city's and our commonwealth's resilience.”

All participants who were registered for the April 20 event will be offered a full entry-fee refund.

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