Moshe Lion, mayor of Jerusalem, announced on Monday that new immigrants to Israel will be able to run for free in the Jerusalem Winter Marathon. The move was made to encourage more immigrants to participate in the largest sporting event in Israel. "Participants are running together in the Jerusalem Marathon, all of Israel, including the new immigrants. Those that immigrated within the last year are invited to run without paying fees. To the new immigrants- I am proud and excited to host you in the Jerusalem Marathon." said Lion.
Immigrants that immigrated to the country between January 1, 2019, and March 20, 2020 will be able to register and run for free.
Registration for the 2020 winter marathon will end on March 14, with six different kinds of options for the participants to chose from. Options include a full marathon (42.2 km), a half-marathon (21.1 km) a 10 km race, 5 km race, a family marathon (1.7 km), and a community marathon (800 m). The race itself is scheduled to take place on March 20. The community marathon in the past was held to accommodate participants with special needs, and for raising awareness for social issues. Last year many runners joined packs of advocacy groups and associations championing new research and programs combating these social issues in Jerusalem. Social advocacy groups such as Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities took part. The international World Bnei Akiva movement also participated and brought some 300 members and alumni to "join together from countries around the world to run the Jerusalem Marathon along with terror victims and IDF soldiers." Among them was Eitan Hermon, Paralympics marathon champion who set the world record for single-leg amputee runners.
Though thousands of runners from around 80 countries are still currently expected to participate, Tel Aviv's marathon, due to take place on Friday, has currently barred all foreign participants from entering the race in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Responding to a Walla report from Sunday that the Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon, scheduled to take place on Friday, could be canceled due to fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality confirmed on Monday that the race will take place, but that only local runners will be eligible to participate.The number of registered foreign participants in the Tel Aviv marathon is 3000 according to Ynet, and the Tel Aviv Municipality announced that there ave been over 1000 cancellations from runners coming in from Asian countries. Though Israel has placed a travel ban on many countries, including many Asian countries, some of the runners have already arrived to the country. All participants will be reimbursed, and accommodations have been made to fly them back to their prospective countries.
A spokesperson for the Tel Aviv Marathon told The Jerusalem Post that “as a precaution against the potential spread of coronavirus, the Israel Ministry of Health has instructed the municipality to restrict the participation of international runners in the Tel Aviv Samsung Marathon, taking place this Friday.
“Marathon officials will contact registrants abroad to inform them of the Israel Ministry of Health’s decision. Registrants’ money will be fully refunded.”Amid concerns that the Jerusalem Marathon could also be affected by the coronavirus, a representative said on Monday that, “preparations for the Winner Jerusalem Marathon are in order at this time. However, following recent events, we are in contact with the Ministry of Health, following the Health Ministry’s instructions, and may act on them as they are updated.”
Professor Dan Nemet, Medical Director of the Olympic Committee in Israel, and Professor Gal Dubnov-Raz, Chairman of the Medical Committee of the Olympic Committee in Israel issued a detailed document on Monday for the management of Israel’s Olympic staff, professional teams and associations to deal with new coronavirus, especially athletes traveling to training camps and competitions around the world.
The OCI, following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, recommends that before departure to any training camps or competitions abroad, flight necessity should be carefully considered, as well as the potential risk of contagion, infection and/or the need to stay in quarantined isolation for 14 days and the implications for health and preparedness for athletes and staff.
For registration and more details on the routes, accommodation options, and events related to the marathon: Zachary Keyser and Uriel Sturm contributed to this article.