Ethiopia's premier athletics event to downsize due to COVID-19 pandemic

By Wang PingUnreguser

ADDIS ABABA, Jan.8 (Xinhua) -- Africa's largest road race, the Great Ethiopian Run (GER), will only have 12,500 participants for the 2021 edition as part of COVID-19 precautionary measures, Ermias Ayele, the Race Director at GER said on Friday.

Ayele, said the decision to allow 12,500 runners as opposed to the original plan of having 50,000 runners was taken to prevent possible transmission of the disease during the 10 kilometers road race.

"The number of GER 2021 edition runners was also downsized to comply with Ethiopian government mandated COVID-19 precautionary directives," Ayele said.

"Runners will need to wear face masks during the race, while GER will provide each runner with sanitizers before the start of the race," he further said.

In keeping with tradition of inviting foreign elite runners, the 2021 edition of GER will see the participation of two Kenyan and three Eritrean athletes.

GER also expects dozens of amateur runners from across the world including from China to participate in the premier Ethiopian athletics event.

The 10-km road race, which will mark two decades of competition when the 2021 edition is held on Sunday in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, was started in 2001 by Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebreselassie as part of his efforts to turn running from an elite sport into a hobby of the masses.

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