Hong Kong Disneyland closed, marathon cancelled over virus fears

Hong Kong Disneyland closed, marathon cancelled over virus fears

Ocean Park also closes doors

Employees wearing protective masks stand outside the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park that has been closed, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Hong Kong on Sunday. (Reuters photo)
Employees wearing protective masks stand outside the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park that has been closed, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Hong Kong on Sunday. (Reuters photo)

Hong Kong's Disneyland announced it was shutting its doors on Sunday until further notice over the deadly virus outbreak in central China, a day after city authorities classified the crisis as an emergency.

The 2020 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon has also been cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The park said it was taking the step to protect "the health and safety of our guests and cast members" and said refunds would be given.

Ocean Park, a rival amusement park on Hong Kong's main island, said it was also closing its doors.

On Saturday, Hong Kong classified the outbreak as an "emergency" — the city's highest warning tier — and announced ramped-up measures to reduce the risk of further infections.

The move came as city leader Carrie Lam faced criticism in some quarters over her administration's response to the crisis.

The closure of Disneyland and Ocean Park will pile fresh misery on Hong Kong's tourism, leisure and retail industries which have already been battered by more than seven months of often-violent pro-democracy protests.

Ocean Park is on track to receive a HK$10.6 billion (41.6 billion baht) government bailout over grim ticket sales in recent years.

Combined with the US-China trade war fallout, the protests have helped tip Hong Kong into recession and the virus outbreak has only compounded the city's economic woes.

Shanghai's Disneyland also closed from Saturday in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Hong Kong marathon cancelled

The organisers of the marathon decided to cancel the event this year.

"Public health is our top priority. To support the government's epidemic prevention efforts, the organiser has decided to cancel the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon originally scheduled for 8 and 9 February," a statement read.

Entry fees will be fully refunded for around 70,000 participants who were set to take part in the annual race, with details to be announced soon, the statement added.

The South China Morning Post reached out to HKAAA chairman Kwan Kee but he had yet to respond. Most people supported the decision to cancel the race on social media, including some who had planned to travel from as far away as Europe just for the race.

Participants run through Nathan Road in Mong Kok during the 2019 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. (South China Morning Post photo)

Many were disappointed at missing out on the Year of the Rat medal that was due to be given to all runners who finished their respective categories within a certain time.

"Safety first. It's a positive sign that so much containment action is being put in place. The world doesn't need another SARS outbreak," said Facebook user Steve Lam.

Vivo Wong wrote: "Wise decision - I can't imagine it being an easy decision for the organisers. Health & safety is of utmost importance. There will always be next year."

One runner who said he was from the Philippines and has taken part in the past six Hong Kong Marathons was keen to receive the finisher's medal.

"Please send us the Year of the Rat Medallion as a consolation. It's my 7th year of joining the marathon in 7 straight years and I don't want to miss the rat in my collection. I am dreaming of getting all the 12 animals."

Scotty Anderson, though, questioned the intentions of those who thought it was the right decision to cancel the race. "To all the people saying 'wise choice' or 'good decision' have you actually been training for this and you don't feel disappointed?"

Before the race was cancelled, Małgorzata Czaja, claiming to be from Poland, was ready to accept any decision.

"For me it is a very difficult situation, I come from far away, I have everything bought and they will not refund me. I've been waiting for the marathon for two years but I humbly accept any decision."

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