Participants have flocked to the official Facebook page of the Vientiane International Half Marathon to express their disappointment and frustration over the abrupt cancellation of the event.
The 5th Vientiane International Half Marathon (VIHM) 2020 was due to take place on March 1, but the event was canceled only a day before.
The organizer cited an official urgent notice from the country’s Elite Sports Department, Ministry of Education and Sports, ordering the cancellation of the event due to the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19), which is rapidly spreading in many countries around the world.
Runners were told they would not receive a registration fee refund, but they could pick up participation medals and food at the event’s starting line early in the morning on March 1.
“We sincerely apologize for the disappointment and inconvenience caused, especially to those who have traveled from afar. We are as disappointed as you, as this was shaping up to be our biggest VIHM to date,” the organizer said in the announcement.
Some participants are demanding an explanation for the reason why there is no refund of their registration fee.
In response to The Laotian Times’ inquiry, the organizer stated that the fees could not be returned since much of the funding had already been spent on marketing, management, food, and staffing, among other costs.
When asked if the event might be reconvened, the organizers responded that they are working closely with authorities to find a solution as quickly as possible.