North Korea has banned foreign marathon runners from the annual Pyongyang marathon amid fears of Ebola, despite the secretive country having no previous recorded cases of the virus.
The race through the streets of the capital, known officially as the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, was opened to outsiders for the first time last year with huge success.
Hundreds of foreigners had signed up to run in this year’s event on 12 April, attracted by the rare chance to compete in the mysterious country.
But tour operators have been told that the race is now only open to North Korean runners, due to fear of Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 9,000 people in west Africa – but not infected anyone in North Korea or the surrounding region.
North Korea shut its doors to tourists in October because of Ebola and the country’s media has previously suggested the disease was created by the US military as a biological weapon.
Nick Bonner, co-founder of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, says more than 400 foreign runners had signed up with his agency alone for the event… see more