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Coronavirus In Philadelphia: 2020 Penn Relays Canceled Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- The University of Pennsylvania Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics announced Monday that the 2020 Penn Relays, which were scheduled for April 23-25, have been canceled due to the evolving coronavirus outbreak. The Penn Relays were one of the nation's longest continuously running athletic events, having been contested every year since 1895 uninterrupted.

Last year, the event celebrated its 125th consecutive running, a streak that will now come to an end. However, the organization did say that Penn will look to hold a substitute event 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 said in the 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."

According to the release, the substitute event will not have the same format as the Relays. Instead of being a three-day long affair, it will be a one-day event with opportunities for youth, high school and collegiate runners to participate.

Dave Johnson, the Frank Dolson Director of the Penn Relays, stated that nobody wanted to see a cancellation of the event, but "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."

The Relays have been altered by worldwide conditions in the past. In 1917 and 1918, World War I caused changes to the format of the event when several colleges curtailed their programs. And in response to World War II in 1943 and 1944, the event was held with fewer participants and spectators due to travel restrictions and gas rationing.

Any tickets that were purchased for this year's event will be automatically credited towards the 2021 edition of the Penn Relays. But, there will also be refunds for the sale price of the 2020 tickets upon request. Any questions about ticketing or the refund process can be answered by contacting Penn Athletics Ticket Office at (215) 898-6151 between 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-Friday, or by email at

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