The TCS New York City Marathon, the largest marathon and one of the premier sports events in the world, has been cancelled this year.

The sponsoring organization New York Road Runners announced the cancellation, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a press release Wednesday.

"While the marathon is an iconic and beloved event in our city, I applaud New York Road Runners for putting the health and safety of both spectators and runners first,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in the release from NYRR. "We look forward to hosting the 50th running of the marathon in November of 2021."

There is no practical way to socially distance in a mass running event, especially one as large and popular as the New York City marathon, where last year 53,640 participants finished the race.

In addition, thousands of volunteers hand out water, medals, blankets and snacks -- not to mention the estimated million cheering spectators who line the streets and make Marathon Day a giant citywide party.

Michael Capiraso, the chief executive of New York Road Runners, told the New York Times there was initially some hope they could hold the race on November 1st this year, but ultimately “decided to cancel before having to spend more money to organize it. “There was hope but that turned to uncertainty, and given what we have seen the past months this was really the only decision,” Capiraso said.

Organizers had considered only fielding elite runners in a modified marathon, as Tokyo’s marathon did in March, the Times reported -- but that plan was discarded “in part because they feared crowds gathering on the streets and because of the uncertainty of being able to bring international runners to the United States.”

The race has only been cancelled once before, shortly after Superstorm Sandy destroyed parts of the region in the fall of 2012. That cancellation came after Mayor Michael Bloomberg was roundly criticized for attempting to hold the event.

The marathon is also a significant revenue generator for the city in normal times, bringing in an estimated $415 million from 250,000 visitors and tourists.

Organizers say the 50th anniversary will be celebrated at the 2021 marathon, and there are plans for mounting a virtual 26.2-mile marathon between October 17th through November 1st. NYRR also said it expects to announce more cancellations of its 2020 race schedule this summer.