Thousands of runners will line up for the Beijing marathon in November after a two-year Covid pause, organisers said, as sporting events gradually return to China.

The world’s most populous country has cancelled almost all international sports competitions since Covid emerged there in 2019, with the Beijing Winter Olympics in February this year a rare exception.

This photo taken on September 17, 2017 shows runners taking part in the 2017 Beijing Marathon in Beijing. (Photo by AFP) / China OUT

Race organisers said on Tuesday that 30,000 runners would be able to take part in the 26-mile (42-kilometre) course through the capital on November 6 — but only Beijing residents can register.

China is the last major economy wedded to a zero-Covid policy, stamping out virus flare-ups with snap shutdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.

The table tennis world team championships kicked off last Friday in the megacity of Chengdu, though participants must stay in a “closed loop”, and it was announced last week that China would host the season-ending World Tour Finals for badminton in December.

Support HKFP  |  Code of Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.