A new wave of global infections spurred by fast spreading Covid-19 mutations – particularly the Delta variant – has made events that draw large crowds risky affairs. The go-ahead for the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon on October 24 must therefore be greeted with great caution. Stringent precautionary measures are needed lest it becomes the catalyst of a serious outbreak. Attracting as many as 74,000 local and overseas participants in 2019, the event is a red-letter day on the city’s sports calendar. But it was cancelled along with other spectacles last year as the pandemic sparked four waves of coronavirus outbreaks across the city. The recent warning by experts of a possible fifth wave has raised concerns about whether it is wise to stage a marathon race of this magnitude. Having weighed all relevant factors, the government finally gave the green light last Wednesday. The total capacity for the three contests – a full marathon, a half-marathon and a 10km race – will be scaled down by 75 per cent to just 18,500, with runners required to undergo vaccination and coronavirus tests in advance. Overseas participants are also sensibly restricted to places without a serious outbreak. It is a shame that people are only able to watch overseas competitions on TV screens, while no major sports events have been held at home for such a long time. The recent prolonged period of zero local infections may give the government and organisers a sense of security to bring back international events that have been disrupted by the pandemic. Huge boost for city sport as Hong Kong Marathon gets go-ahead Arguably, if enhanced health measures enabled Japan to go ahead with the Olympic Games amid an outbreak in the country, there is no reason why a marathon cannot be held here. Experience shows the races usually finish by the time the city wakes up, thereby lowering the risk of crowds gathering to watch the event. The Hong Kong Book Fair held last month was a good example of how major events can still be staged with careful preparation and vigilance. The October marathon, the first major outdoor sport event to be held since the pandemic started, will be yet another test of the city’s ability to bring life closer to normal. A successful race will provide further reference for more such events to return to the city.