'It's definitely disappointing': Richmond runner blocked from Tokyo Marathon over COVID-19 fears
RICHMOND, B.C. -- He's already completed three of the big six marathons around the world: New York, Boston and London.
And on March 1, Richmond, B.C., resident Sandy Sumra was supposed to add number four to his list.
The risk management consultant earned a coveted spot in the Tokyo Marathon, and has been training for four months.
But Monday morning, Sumra learned organizers have disinvited non-professional runners, over fears of coronavirus spreading.
"Disappointing is definitely the right word," said Sumra in an interview with CTV News Vancouver.
"You have your own personal goals you want to reach and you make a certain commitment for about four months. You sacrifice. (You miss) the Christmas parties, you come home a little early. And our Vancouver winters, where it's dark and wet and damp, but you still get out there and put in your work for the sole reason of meeting your goal."
Sumra suspects the marathon has been scaled back to only include professional runners to protect an even bigger event in Tokyo this summer.
"I think the Tokyo Olympics are a factor for sure," Sumra said. "After a marathon the immune system is pretty depressed, and all it takes one person to maybe get a flu and say, 'oh my God it might be coronavirus.' And we all know that could snowball into news, if its real or it's not. So even having potential of negative press from the Tokyo Marathon has played a bit of a part."
Sumra hasn't lost his spot in the Tokyo Marathon - it's been deferred to next year. But he won't get his money back for the 2020 race, and will need to pay the entrance fee again if he wants to run in 2021.
After working so hard to get in marathon shape, he doesn't want to let the months of training go to waste.
"I'm ready to run a race now," he said. "Maybe I'll search for something in the next couple of weeks."