Coronavirus: Bath half marathon to go ahead despite backlash

coronavirus bath half marathon to go ahead despite backlash - Coronavirus: Bath half marathon to go ahead despite backlash
Image caption The Bath half marathon race is due to go ahead despite significant concern on social media

The Bath half marathon is to go ahead later despite an outcry over it taking place during the coronavirus crisis.

Despite the Premier League, Football League and other sporting events being cancelled this weekend, organisers of the race said they were pressing ahead.

It has prompted a backlash with the city’s MP, Wera Hobhouse, among thousands condemning the decision and several organisations have pulled out.

Race officials said they have taken advice from government experts.

Six National League football games took place on Saturday and there are horse racing meetings scheduled for Carlisle and Market Rasen.

Ministers are drawing up plans to ban mass gatherings in the UK from as early as next weekend in response to the spread of the virus, which the World Health Organization has classified as a pandemic.

Ms Hobhouse said “cancelling the event to protect the most vulnerable in our city from a further spread of the infection must be the priority”.

On Friday organisers of the London Marathon announced that race will be postponed until October because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the Bath half marathon’s Facebook page some 1,800 people have left comments with a large number against the decision to go ahead. Many hundreds more have also spoken out on Twitter.

Amber Morgan said: “Absolutely crazy. All those people coming to Bath, using our public transport, restaurants, shops, public toilets. The residents will not thank you.”

While Paula Bailey added: “Give it two weeks and you’ll be regretting this decision. Look at Italy!”

Others described the move as an “absolute joke and a PR disaster” and a “very, very bad decision”.

Others, such as Sharon Smith, said they have pulled out because of health concerns within her family. “I think it would be completely irresponsible of me to run,” she added.

Some though, were supportive saying it was “on last hurrah for Bath before lockdown”.

There was a similar negative response on Twitter.

Organisers said that to “cancel at this late stage” would be wrong as they “anticipate thousands of runners would still turn up” and we “would owe a duty of care to those runners”.

They also claimed the event “does not impose any burden on the NHS or police, as our medical and stewarding services are independent of public services”.

Additional hand wash facilities will be provided for runners, spectators and volunteers who choose to attend, they added.

Image copyright Hamptons
Image caption Last year’s race led runners to raise more than £2m for a range of charities

A number of organisations have said they will not be taking part including Bath Rugby Foundation, which said it did “not want to put any of our supporters or their loved ones at risk”.

Dorothy House Hospice and the Forever Friends Appeal said runners have been told “it’s their choice whether they run or not”.

In 2019, runners raised more than £2m for a range of charities and local voluntary groups.

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