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The Penn Relays, the oldest and largest relay meet in the United States, will be canceled for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

The Penn Relays will be canceled for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic and local restrictions on large gatherings, Penn's Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics announced on March 4.

The event, the oldest and largest relay meet in the United States, was originally scheduled to take place this year from April 22 to April 24. If pandemic conditions improve, the Penn Relays plans to hold a local collegiate-only track and field meet on April 24, according to the Penn Relays statement.

The meet would consist of local Division I, II, and III institutions in the Philadelphia area, according to the statement, and would require teams and participants to undergo COVID-19 testing and adhere to campus safety policies, mask wearing, and physical distancing.

Two additional meets may be held in the coming months — one meet for open and professional athletes prior to the U.S. Olympic-qualifying deadlines and a scholastic meet anticipated to take place this summer. Further details about the meets will be released at a later date, the statement read.

"We are extremely disappointed to cancel the Penn Relays for a second year," Dave Johnson, the Frank Dolson director of the Penn Relays, said in the statement. "At the same time, we feel a strong obligation to the local track and field community to provide as much competition as safely possible during the course of the spring and summer." 

Ticket holders who opted to transfer credit from the 2020 Penn Relays to the 2021 Penn Relays will be eligible to receive credit towards the 2022 Penn Relays. 

The decision closely follows the cancellation of the Ivy League spring athletic season. The Ivy League Council of Presidents announced on Feb. 18 that conference athletic competitions and league championships will not be held this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It is disappointing that we once again have to cancel one of the landmark events of the spring in Philadelphia and in track and field, but collectively we want to ensure the safety of our athletes, campus, community, and spectators," Penn Director of Athletics and Recreation M. Grace Calhoun said, according to the statement.

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