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Sports in Society Journal: COVID-19 and the Cancellation of TOM 2020
Sports in Society Journal: COVID-19 and the Cancellation of TOM 2020

17 November 2020

Recently, the article COVID-19 and the cancellation of the 2020 Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town, South Africa was published in the journal Sports in Society. The article was authored by Professors Kamilla Swart (Hamad Bin Khalifa University) and David Maralack (University of Cape Town).

Abstract / Brief Summary

The Two Oceans Marathon, hosted annually in Cape Town, is a premier ultra-marathon in Africa and globally. The 51st edition was scheduled for 8–11 April 2020; however, three weeks prior it was announced that the event would be cancelled. The decision to cancel was not a popular one and given all the stakeholders involved it was also challenging.

Drawing on primary and secondary data, this paper considers factors leading to the decision to cancel, stakeholder engagement and associated organisational and socio-economic impacts. Primary data included key
informant interviews with the race director and stakeholders.

The findings reveal that the last minute decision to cancel came at a huge cost to the event amidst growing uncertainty; however, it is still viewed as the right decision. Regarding lessons learned, race organisers highlighted critical areas including process changes and stakeholder management. A more comprehensive risk management approach is also required.


The authors would like to thank Two Oceans Marathon, Western Cape Government, Western Province Athletics and stakeholders for providing information and participating in interviews.

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