The 2020 edition of the New York City Marathon has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

This year's editions of the New York City and Berlin Marathons, have both been cancelled by organisers today because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The races are both part of the World Marathon Majors series, which also comprises Tokyo, Boston, London and Chicago.

This year's New York City Marathon was due to take place on November 1, and was set to be the 50th edition of the world's largest marathon, which last year attracted saw more than 53,000 people complete the course.

The last time the New York City Marathon was cancelled was back in 2012 following Hurricane Sandy hitting the state.

The 2020 Berlin Marathon had been due to take place on September 27 but this plan was discarded when local Government officials banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people until October 24.

Organisers had left their options open but concluded today that it was not feasible to stage the race this year, hence the cancellation.

The Berlin Marathon can also boast being home of the men's marathon world record after Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge won the race in a time of 2 hours 1min 39sec in 2018. 

New York City Marathon organisers New York Road Runners have described the decision to cancel the race as "incredibly disappointing" but said the health and safety of everyone involved was of primary importance.

"Cancelling this year’s TCS New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective," said Michael Capiraso, President and chief executive of New York Road Runners.

"Marathon Day and the many related events and activities during race week are part of the heart and soul of New York City and the global running community, and we look forward to coming together next year."

Runners who had registered to take part in this year's 50th edition of the event will be contacted by July 15 with more information, including options to receive a full refund of their entry fee or a guaranteed complimentary entry in a forthcoming year.

Runners registered for this year's edition are also being invited to take part in a virtual version of the 2020 New York City Marathon due to take place between October 17 and November 1.

Two races that form the World Marathon Majors series, New York and Berlin (above) were cancelled today ©Getty Images
Two races that form the World Marathon Majors series, New York and Berlin (above) were cancelled today ©Getty Images

More details on the virtual marathon will be shared in July.

"While the marathon is an iconic and beloved event in our city, I applaud New York Road Runners for putting the health and safety of both spectators and runners first," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"We look forward to hosting the 50th running of the marathon in November 2021."

Berlin Marathon organisers today admitted defeat in their plans to stage the race in 2020.

"Over the past weeks, we have put a lot of commitment and effort into examining all options for holding the BMW Berlin-Marathon 2020 under the given conditions," Berlin organisers said in a statement.

"We worked hard on the development of a hygiene concept and held countless discussions with our experts, the responsible authorities and service providers, among others."

Another event that forms the World Marathon Majors series, Boston, was cancelled in May with organisers saying it was not feasible to stage the race this year because of the pandemic.

The London Marathon has been postponed to October 4 although in an update issued last month the race's director Hugh Brasher said he was "uncertain" if the 40th edition of the race would go ahead on the new date.

The Tokyo Marathon took place as scheduled in March albeit the event was significantly scaled back with no mass participation races and only the elite and wheelchair competitions taking place.

Meanwhile, there is better news for another marathon - the Haspa Marathon Hamburg - which has been rearranged for Sunday September 13.

The marathon was due to take place in April but was postponed owing to the pandemic.

The marathon, which is a World Athletics Gold Label Road Race, has been granted an exemption to rules banning all large events until October 24 - as organisers have implemented a thorough hygiene plan.

The 50th edition of the New York City Marathon will now take place in 2021 following the cancellation of this year's event ©Getty Images
The 50th edition of the New York City Marathon will now take place in 2021 following the cancellation of this year's event ©Getty Images

Both elite and mass races will take place at marathon and half-marathon distance.

An estimated 10,000 runners are set to take part in the marathon with another 4,000 expected in the half-marathon.

Athletes will be sent out on to the course in batches of 1,000 at scattered intervals.

Physical distancing will be in place before and after the race with groups of runners gathering in different areas of the Expo building in Hamburg.

Other precautions include all participants being given a tubular scarf with a breathing filter.

These scarves must be worn over the nose and mouth in the event area including the start and finish sections.

Runners are being asked to carry them during the race.

Participants will be given personal refuelling packages in place of food and drink from outlets after the race.

Facilities include massages and showers will not be available.

The elite field is being reduced to 30 athletes, who will be tested for coronavirus before the race, as they will stand together at the start.

The Haspa Marathon Hamburg was founded in 1986 with last year's elite men's and women's races won by Ethiopians Tadu Abate and Dibaba Kuma respectively.

"The organisational and hygiene policy should demonstrate that a running event with up to 14,000 participants within a city environment can be carried out responsibly while respecting the restrictions on contact and current hygiene guidelines since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic," said chief organiser Frank Thaleiser.