The biggest running competition in Cambodia will not push through as scheduled this weekend.
The committee organising the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon announced yesterday that the event will be postponed due to coronavirus pandemic. The race was supposed to be held at Siem Reap province on December 6.
Cambodia is going through a community outbreak that led to the drastic increase of COVID-19 cases in the last few days. There are now 323 cases in the Kingdom, according to the Ministry of Health.
One of the coronavirus-positive individuals reportedly traveled to Siem Reap province recently.
In response to the latest outbreak, the Cambodian Government ordered the temporary closure of cinemas, schools, museums, a hotel, a mall and arts performing venues. It is unclear if the latest Government directive covers sports activities or facilities. In the past these were included.
“Due to the spreading of COVID-19 into the community, the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon Committee would like to postpone the event date of 06th December 2020 until the next announcement,” the notice read.
“We will update the information weekly,” it added.
Many people agreed with the decision to postpone the race for now.
“Sensible decision. Looking forward to more news,” a Facebook user named Stuart Gemmell commented.
Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), admitted in a prior media briefing that this year’s event will have fewer participants in light of the health situation.
The organisers also scaled down the number of side-events that go along with the competition.
In the past, thousands of Americans, British, French, Dutch, Russians, Indians, Filipinos, Malaysians, Indonesians, Chinese, South Koreans, Japanese, Singaporeans, Thais and other nationalities would descend on the province every year to participate in the race.
The race brought more than 20,000 visitors from nearly 100 countries in the past two years.
The foreigners not only come for the race, but also for the opportunity to visit and see Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most popular tourist destination.
The venue and surrounding areas take on a festive atmosphere with concerts and other activities every time the much-anticipated race comes to town.
But this year, due to the pandemic and international travel restrictions, only locals and foreign residents are expected for the race, which comes in six categories: 21km wheelchair, 21km half marathon, 10km, 10km artificial arm/leg, 5km and 3km fun run.
The NOCC is organising the event in partnership with the Association of Athletics Federation of Cambodia and Cambodia Event Organizer. Manulife (Cambodia) is its main sponsor.
The money raised from the event mostly goes to hospitals, landmine victims, NGOs and other charitable causes.