Birhanu wins for the second consecutive year in the Tokyo marathon affected by viruses

TOKYO: Birhanu Legese from Ethiopia won the Tokyo marathon affected by the reduced virus from a mass participation event of 38,000 runners to elite athletes only on Sunday due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The race, which doubled as a test for Japanese athletes hoping to run at their Tokyo Olympics later this year, was limited to 200 participants, including wheelchair runners.

Legese won his second successive Tokyo marathon in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 15 seconds with Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel winning the women's event in 2: 17.45.

The Tokyo Marathon is one of the biggest sporting events affected by the coronavirus in Japan, with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games less than five months away.

Last week, the International Tennis Federation said the Davis Cup draw at Japan's home against Ecuador in Miki next weekend will be played behind closed doors.

The Japanese Football Association has postponed all J-League matches until March 15.

The international Olympic committee said last week it was fully committed to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned, despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak.

The viral outbreak in Japan and dozens of other countries has fueled concerns about the Summer Games, which begin on July 24, after sporting events were postponed or canceled.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intensified national measures to contain the virus, asking organizers of major events to consider canceling or delaying them.

The disruption caused by the virus has affected the Olympic qualification in several sports, including football, boxing, badminton, handball and fighting and sailing.

The Tokyo Olympic organizers have repeatedly said that they focus on celebrating safe Olympics and Paralympics with full support from the IOC.