Elite runners and operational staff at the Virgin Money London Marathon will wear hi-tech devices to warn them if social distancing is being infringed.
The 100 elite athletes preparing for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair races that is scheduled to take place on a closed loop within St James’s Park on Sunday (October 4), will each have a "Bump" device that will use radio frequency (RF) technology which alerts wearers when they are getting too close to another person.
This "Personal Motion System", designed by Tharsus, one of the United Kingdom's most advanced robotics companies, will also be used by 500 members of the organising team as part of maintaining the biosecure bubble for the event.
The Bump devices - which will be worn in the build-up and also on race day - will additionally allow marathon organisers to monitor accurately how often and for how long elite athletes and event staff spend within a pre-defined distance of each other.
The system will not only make it clear when wearers get too close to one another, but should a wearer test positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks following the event, organisers will be able to trace interactions back to specific wearers and inform them accordingly.
In the meantime Ethiopia's Degitu Azimeraw will not be travelling to London to take part in the women's race as both she and her coach, Haji Adelo, tested positive for COVID-19 before taking their flight.
Azimeraw was likely to have been a leading light in the race, having won the Amsterdam Marathon on her debut at the distance last year aged 20, breaking the course record with her time of 2 hours 19min 26sec.
Hugh Brasher, event director of the London Marathon, said: "This weekend’s event is the culmination of months of planning around how to deliver a socially distanced 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon that is safe for all participants and stakeholders.
Breaking News: Degitu Azimeraw Out of London Marathon Over Positive COVID Test https://t.co/pDwHsl46Zm— DDN Sports (@DDNSports) September 29, 2020
"Tyharsus’s Bump technology has played an important role, giving our athletes and internal teams extra confidence to engage with the event safely.
"We have been working with Tharsus for many months and, when we were still hoping to deliver the mass participation event on its usual route, we were planning to supply all participants with the Bump technology in order to hold a socially distanced mass event.
"It shows how important a role technology can play in the current situation."
Brian Palmer, chief executive of Tharsus Group, which is based in Northumberland, said: "With fresh Government restrictions being regularly reintroduced, it’s crucial that we adopt measures where possible that help us convene safely and allow society to retain a sense of normalcy.
"Despite being behind closed doors, many sports fixtures and events continue to take place, highlighting that the industry is leading the way in using technology to continue operating safely.
"This will not only provide vital support to clubs and organisations suffering a significant impact on their revenue, but will also be a huge boost for national morale.
"The Virgin Money London Marathon is a foremost example of this; it is a hugely symbolic sporting event and we are delighted to be playing a role in facilitating its delivery in such challenging circumstances."