Postponed 2021 Hong Kong Marathon set for October with 75 per cent cut in numbers

The twice-postponed 2021 Hong Kong Marathon, due to take place in October, will have its numbers cut by 75 per cent to 18,500, organisers have announced.

The participation numbers within the full, half marathon and 10km events has been reduced from its normal total of 74,000 as part of COVID-19 precautions.

The Hong Kong Association of Athletics Affiliates (HKAAA) said the Home Affairs Bureau had agreed in principle for the postponed event to take place but it still needed a stamp of approval from the government and Centre for Health Protection.

Organisers are seeking approval for the re-shaped event from senior Government and medical experts by August to have time to prepare for the races.

Negotiations for the latest arrangement began in March.

The 2021 race, due to take place on January 24, was postponed to April and then again to October.

The half and full marathons will accommodate 6,500 and 4,000 runners respectively, with the route largely unchanged from previous years.

The 10km race, which will involve 8,000 runners, will start at the Western Tunnel Toll Plaza as opposed to its usual location at the Island Eastern Corridor.

This is to ensure all three races share the same route to minimise the chance of COVID-19 infections.

The roll-out-style starting times remain the same despite the reduced field, with runners going off in batches of 200 to minimise contact.

All participants must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the race and must arrive with their masks on before the race, although they can remove them at the start line.

"The Government is eager to bring people back to normal life, and with the recent ease of the pandemic [restrictions], we are quite confident in finding a resolution to pave a way to stage the event his year," said HKAAA chairman Kwan Kee.

World governing body World Athletics said given the pandemic, there was no need to classify the event as gold-label and therefore organisers do not need to meet the "top runner" threshold.

Organisers nonetheless plan to invite elite runners from neighbouring countries who have comparatively lighter Government-imposed quarantine requirements.

They added that a bubble scenario was not feasible in terms of money and manpower.

In case the HKAAA needed to call off the event 14 days in advance, there will be a 50 per cent refund on entry fees - any later and refunds will not be offered, as is the case with many international race events this year.

Organisers have also pencilled in next year’s Standard Chartered Marathon events for February 13, 2022

posted Sunday July 11th
by Mike Rowbottom