MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An international cross country ski race slated for next week in Minneapolis has been canceled due to concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

A spokesperson for the Loppet Foundation, which is helping organize the Fastenal Parallel 45 Festival and Coop FIS Cross Country World Cup Race, says the events are canceled following a decision from the International Ski Federation and other organizing groups.

“We are devastated to announce this cancellation,” the Loppet Foundation said, in a statement. “In keeping with updated information from the Minnesota Department of Health and after consulting with medical advisors, we are prioritizing the health and safety of our community, fans, athletes, staff and volunteers involved in these events”

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The twin events were slated to start Saturday and cap off Tuesday with the Cross Country Ski World Cup Sprint Finals. Organizers had expected the events to draw 20,000 fans to the Twin Cities.

The world cup race would have been the first time in two decades that the world’s top Nordic ski racers competed on American snow.

This cancellation comes as the sports world grapples with the spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the NBA suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus. On Thursday, the NHL and MLS also suspended their seasons.

So far in Minnesota, nine people have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 300 people have been tested for the virus.

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