North Korea to cancel April marathon over coronavirus fears - tour company

By Josh Smith
FILE PHOTO: A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has called off its Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown and travel curbs to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, a Western tour company said on Friday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had no indications of the virus having spread to North Korea, after South Korean media suggested a cover-up of cases and deaths by authorities in Pyongyang.

In an online statement, Young Pioneer Tours said, "We have received confirmation from our travel partners in North Korea that the Pyongyang Marathon held in April has been cancelled due to the current borders of the DPRK being closed."

The initials are an abbreviation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name.

But Pyongyang's Autumn Marathon set for September is still scheduled to go ahead, added the company, which is one of several foreign operators that runs tours to the North Korea.

Despite a ban on foreign tourism over the virus, the isolated nation has announced plans to stage its "Mass Games", featuring thousands of dancers, gymnasts and singers, as soon as August, tour companies have said.

Among its precautions, North Korea has set up month-long quarantines and sent aid workers to its border with China, which has suffered 2,236 deaths and more than 75,400 infections from the virus.


(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)