Eliud Kipchoge will headline the men's field at the London Marathon ©Getty Images

The organisers of the London Marathon have announced that there will be a bubble system for the elite race at this year's event, to safeguard athletes and staff from COVID-19.

Scheduled to take place on October 4, the races will take place on a closed-loop circuit around St James' Park in Central London, with the mass start race cancelled for this year.

The elite men's race is set to host the two fastest marathon runners in history - Kenya's world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge's 2hr 1min 39sec is yet to be bettered after running the new best at the Berlin Marathon in 2018, but Bekele set the second-fastest time ever at the same event a year later, narrowly missing the world record.

In the women's elite race, defending champion and world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya is also set to return.

Two of the best marathon wheelchair athletes will also return - the United States' Daniel Romanchuk and Switzerland's Manuela Schär.

Special permission has been granted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to allow athletes and support staff to travel and compete in the bubble with strict guidelines in place on testing, travel, accommodation and competition.

"It is our duty and responsibility to ensure this event is held in a safe and secure environment," said Hugh Brasher, event director of the Virgin Money London Marathon.

Brigid Kosgei will return to the London Marathon to defend her title ©Getty Images
Brigid Kosgei will return to the London Marathon to defend her title ©Getty Images

"We have looked at other examples and taken lessons from other sports which have returned to action as we developed our detailed plans for this biosecure bubble around the event.

"By finding a hotel for exclusive use and putting in place the strict testing, hygiene and security measures to protect the bubble, we are confident we have created the safest environment possible for everyone."

Athletes will be tested for COVID-19 in their country four days prior to travel and again on arrival at the hotel.

Testing will continue at the hotel until the Friday before the event, with anyone testing positive being placed in quarantine immediately.

The athletes will stay in a hotel outside London which will be used exclusively by athletes and support staff.

It was chosen for its 40 acres of grounds where athletes can train during the week of the race inside the bubble, while social distancing rules will still be in place and face coverings will be worn at all times.

Meanwhile, the BBC is planning eight hours of live coverage of the event and people will be asked to watch it on the television, rather than in public.