Coronavirus: Iditarod dog sled race officials tell fans to avoid finish line, cancel awards event

The majority of sporting events in the United States have been suspended or canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. However, the famous Iditarod dog sled race is still going forward as scheduled in Alaska as the festivities got underway on Sunday. While the race is still happening, officials are taking the proper precautions due to COVID-19. The Meet the Mushers event on March 21 and the Awards Banquet on March 22 in Nome have been postponed.

In addition, fans have been instructed not to appear at the finish line.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska had its first case on Thursday when it was revealed that a cargo pilot contracted the virus.

“Pretty much we’re telling everybody not to go to Nome unless they are essential race personnel,” race marshal Mark Nordman told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday.

The official checkpoint in Shaktoolik has been moved outside of the community “in the continued interest of public health.” However, it appears that all other areas of the race will be taking place as originally planned. The Iditarod checkpoint in Unalakleet will be limited to just mushers, media, and race officials in the interest of public safety.

“I know the city is putting up barricades along the slough to keep the public away from mushers coming through and away from that checkpoint so mushers can do what they need to do and get back out,” Bering Strait School District superintendent Bobby Bolen added.

Nordman did also add that the Iditarod would be postponed if the state asked the race to be stopped, but they haven’t been asked to do that yet.

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