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Elite-racers only for 2020 London marathon

The long-awaited head-to-head between Eliud Kipchoge, the first man to break the two-hour mark, and Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele will headline the men's race on 4 October.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge poses for a photograph after winning the elite men's race of the 2019 London Marathon in central London on April 28, 2019. Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge won the men's London Marathon on Sunday in an unofficial time of 2 hours two minutes and 37 seconds - the second fastest time for a marathon. Ben STANSALL / AFP

LONDON - This year's London marathon will be an elite-athlete only event run in a "secure biosphere" due to coronavirus restrictions, organisers announced on Thursday.

"Elite races for men, women and wheelchair athletes will take place on an enclosed looped course in St James's Park in a secure biosphere," they said in a statement on their website.

The long-awaited head-to-head between Eliud Kipchoge, the first man to break the two-hour mark, and Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele will headline the men's race on 4 October.

The times count towards Olympic qualification for the 2020 Games in Tokyo which have been delayed by 12 months.

The event was meant to take place in April, but Britain was then in the full grip of the coronavirus epidemic and the race was postponed.

Although Britain is over the first bout of the virus, restrictions are still in place, including on large crowds, and no spectators will be allowed to watch the athletes take on 19.8 laps of the central London park.

"Today is a day of sadness, but also I think it's a day of certainty," said event director Hugh Brasher.

Nearly 43,000 runners competed last year in the race, which is considered as one of the sport's six 'majors'.

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