Canada pulls out of half-marathon worlds due to COVID-19 concerns

Rachel Cliff of Canada, right, was one of five Canadians scheduled to race in the half-marathon world championship. (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

Canada has withdrawn its team from Saturday’s world half-marathon championships due to rising COVID-19 cases in Poland.

Poland reported a record-high 6,526 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The race, originally scheduled for March 29, is being held in Gdynia, Poland.

Paddy McCluskey, Athletics Canada’s chief medical officer, said flying, airport transfers, plus common areas such as hotel lobbies and common dining areas were all concerning, and "we felt it was not prudent to expose our team to those risks."

The withdrawal was another blow for Canada’s distance runners, as the global pandemic has virtually wiped out the road racing season.

Canada was to be represented by Rachel Cliff, Justin Kent, Ben Preisner, Philippe Parrot-Migas and Thomas Toth.

"This was a very difficult decision but we think it is in the best interests of the athletes and the team staff," Simon Nathan, Athletics Canada’s high performance director, said in a release.

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