China steadily resumes marathons amid epidemic control

Chun'an county, Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province, hosts a marathon beside the Qiandao Lake, Dec. 6. (Photo by Wang Jiancai/People's Daily Online)

Through precise and differentiated strategies in the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) has gradually resumed marathons in low-risk areas to satisfy the needs of marathon enthusiasts.


On Nov. 29, 10,000 marathon contestants entered the preparation area of the 2020 Nanjing Marathon in the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu province, after going through various testing procedures for epidemic prevention and control, including checks for their body temperature and health QR code.


Before taking part in the race, each of them was required to submit the paper version of their negative nucleic acid test certificate, sign a letter of commitment stating responsibility for their health and safety, and provide a record of the places they had been to in the previous 14 days.


To resume marathon competitions, the top priority for organizers is ensuring adequate measures for epidemic prevention and control.


Local governments in China need to get the approval of relevant local departments, such as disease control and prevention department, before holding marathons, said Shui Tao, deputy secretary general of the CAA, noting that these events are also asked to be kept under certain scale.


Marathon organizers in China have come up with different ideas for meeting the demands of the public amid the pandemic.


Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang province, hosted a marathon by the side of Dongqian Lake on Dec. 12.


The city scaled down this year’s Dongqian Lake event, a “bronze medal” marathon, or third highest-level marathon recognized by the CAA, and only held a half marathon and a mini marathon, involving over 4,000 contestants.


It also provided participants with free nucleic acid testing for the sake of epidemic control.


Based on different conditions in each region, the CAA has taken various measures for marathon events accordingly.


For example, it has encouraged low-risk areas to gradually resume races, and suggested that medium- and high-risk areas should not hold marathon races.


Meanwhile, the association has gradually resumed marathon competitions via both online and offline means.


As offline activities have been reduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the CAA has innovatively combined the Internet and sports, and carried out online running events extensively.


Online events allow contestants to choose their own routes, and can therefore attract many running enthusiasts from different cities and facilitate the health and fitness of more people.


As of the beginning of October, China has held 368 online marathons, attracting 52 million online participants.


In October, the CAA launched online marathon series, in a bid to complement offline competitions and enrich the forms and platforms of marathon.


On Dec. 20, a marathon involving about 20,000 participants was hosted in Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian province, marking the final curtain of the domestic marathon season this year.


The 2021 season will make a start on Jan. 3 next year, when a marathon is scheduled to be held in Xiamen city of Fujian province.


The 2021 sports season is coming, Shui noted, who called for careful and sufficient preparations for marathons.


Offline marathons mean that a large number of people gather together and run a long way to the same destination, which makes effective epidemic control all the more necessary, said Shui.


Shui believes it important to fully consider whether a runner is ready to participate in the races both physically and mentally. He added that CAA has issued a proposal for healthy competition, stressing scientific and systematic training and advocating frequent and short-distance running activities.


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