SVALBARD SKIMARATON CANCELLED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: Area’s biggest one-day event at end of April nixed; all other Svalbard Turn group activities for March also cancelled

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The Svalbard Skimaraton, the biggest one-day annual event in the archipelago, is now part of the cancellations occurring due to the coronavirus outbreak, the race’s organizer announced Thursday.

The cancellation of the race at the end of April, which has attracted about 1,000 participants in some recent years, is a sad but appropriate action, Per Nilssen, chairman of the board for Svalbard Turn, told Svalbardposten.

“We are making the decision now, well in advance of the event, so that there will be predictability for as many people as possible,” he said.

About 500 people were registered so far for this year’s race.

The announcement comes a day after Norway announced a ban on events involving more than 500 people. Numerous other global restrictions are unfolding including travel bans that likely would have greatly complicated staging a race with a large and diverse range of international participants.

Svalbard Turn is also cancelling all of its group recreational activities until at least April 1. The ski marathon is the organization’s biggest source of income, so it will join the high number of other businesses locally and elsewhere facing potentially daunting financial setbacks.