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Beijing marathon postponed as China fights Delta outbreak

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Salah Eddine Bounasr of Morocco celebrating as he wins the 2017 Beijing Marathon in Beijing on September 17, 2017. AFP

Beijing marathon postponed as China fights Delta outbreak

The Beijing marathon scheduled for last weekend has been postponed until further notice, organisers said, as China seeks to stamp out a Covid outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics.

China reported 39 new domestic infections on Monday, in an outbreak spread by a travelling group of tourists in the latest test of the country’s zero-tolerance approach with just over 100 days until the start of the Games.

Organisers of Beijing’s marathon said in a statement dated Sunday that the run would be postponed until further notice “in order to prevent the risk of the epidemic spreading [and] effectively protect the health and safety of the majority of runners, staff and residents.”

There were some 30,000 people expected to take part on October 31.

The Wuhan marathon, which was due to have taken place Sunday, was also cancelled at short notice amid worries over the coronavirus resurgence.

Authorities have been racing to contain virus infections via mass testing of residents and targeted lockdowns, as the outbreak spreads to eleven provinces.

The Wuhan event was expected to have 26,000 participants taking part in races including full and half marathons, in the city where coronavirus was first identified towards the end of 2019.

With the latest clusters linked to tourism across the country, authorities on Sunday announced the suspension of cross-provincial tour groups in five areas where cases have been detected, including Beijing.

Some cities, including Gansu’s provincial capital of Lanzhou, and parts of Inner Mongolia have suspended bus and taxi services and closed tourist sites.

The recent spate of domestic infections involve a strain of the Delta variant from abroad, health officials have said.

The cancellations come as Beijing will on Wednesday mark 100 days before the Winter Olympics, which are set to open February 4.

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