Medical workers transfer a suspected coronavirus patient from Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to another hospital on Feb. 21, 2020. Of about 600 patients and medical staff at the hospital, 16 tested positive for COVID-19, health authorities said. (Yonhap)
North Korea has canceled its annual Pyongyang Marathon to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, tour agencies said Friday.
The international marathon event, also known as the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, was scheduled to take place on April 12.
Young Pioneer Tours, a travel company specializing in North Korea tours, said in a Facebook post that it has received confirmation from North Korea that the Pyongyang Marathon has been cancelled due to the border closure over coronavirus.
Koryo Tours, another agency specializing in tours to North Korea, confirmed the cancelation.
"This is due to the ongoing closure of the North Korean border and COVID-19 virus situation in China and the greater region," the company said in a statement posted on its website, citing North Korea's official confirmation.
The Beijing-based company is one of official partners of the Pyongyang Marathon.
The World Health Organization's office in Pyongyang has said that there are no indications of any coronavirus outbreak in North Korea.
North Korea's health minister said on state TV this week that the country remains free of the deadly virus.
Young Pioneer Tours said the Pyongyang Marathon in September this year is still scheduled and is open for registration.
North Korea has held the annual race since 1981 in celebration of the April 15 birthday of its late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Since 2014, the event has been open to foreign runners.
North Korea has used the event as a way to earn hard currency from foreign travelers.(Yonhap)