Penn Relays cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, substitute track meet planned

(Rich Schultz/AP Photo)

(Rich Schultz/AP Photo)

This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.

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In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletic at the University of Pennsylvania has announced that the Penn Relays, scheduled for April 23 through 25, has been cancelled. The Penn Relays, which has been contested uninterrupted since 1895, celebrated its 125th consecutive running last spring. In its place, Penn will endeavor to host a substitute track meet at a later date in late May or early June.

“Based on the current novel coronavirus pandemic, we cannot host an event in late April without putting our participants, spectators, officials, volunteers, and staff at risk,” said Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W’69 Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Pennsylvania in a statement. “We remain hopeful that the recent measures put in place by many health organizations, government officials, and academic institutions will curtail the spread of this disease. The University of Pennsylvania has hosted the Penn Relays for 125 consecutive years through the World Wars and other world-wide health issues. This spirit of perseverance and resiliency will continue as we plan for a track meet later when the health and safety of our community is more certain.”

The track meet will be a regular Penn Relays format. The three-day meet will be reduced into a one-day event designed provide the opportunity for youth, high school, and open runners to persevere and enjoy a competitive and festive atmosphere which they might have missed this spring.

“No one associated with the Penn Relays has ever wanted to see a cancellation,” said Dave Johnson, the Frank Dolson Director of the Penn Relays in a statement. “While participating in the meet as an athlete, coach or official remains a bucket list goal for many, the event has long served as an annual homecoming for families, friends, teams and social groups. Without the Penn Relays, springtime in Philadelphia will not be the same. We will be back for the 2021 Penn Relays on April 22 through 24 at Franklin Field, when we hope to see brighter days and be reunited with Penn Relays family.”

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