August 30, 2007

Ethiopia postpones annual Great Run race ahead of millennium security concerns

Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: The Great Ethiopia Run has been postponed because of unspecified security concerns ahead of next month's millennium celebrations.

The 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race, which draws 30,000 runners and is organized by distance great Haile Gebrselassie, had been scheduled for Sept. 9 — three days before Ethiopia rings in the third millennium. The race was moved to November.

"It's really, really very hard to accept," Gebrselassie said Thursday. "But what can we do? Our top priority is the safety of the people, nothing else."

Ethiopia follows the Coptic calendar, which is about seven years behind the more common Gregorian. A 10-hour, US$1.6 million (€1.2 million) party in scheduled in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square to mark the millennium. The celebrations are expected to draw tourists from around the world.

Bereket Simon, special adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, did not specify the threat.

International Herald Tribune

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