(CNN)The Rome marathon, scheduled for March 29, has been canceled because of coronavirus fears.
"Organizing a marathon, whether in Rome or in New York or elsewhere, is a superhuman effort," Daniele Quinzi, marketing director of Acea Run Rome The Marathon, told CNN.
And while the cancellation just 24 days from the event is "a shot to the heart" for the runners, "we couldn't do otherwise," Quinzi said.
The decision is in response to "the health emergency that we are facing and the government ordinance," organizers said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the government issued a cabinet decree suspending large gatherings and events in the country, including sporting events and competitions held in the presence of an audience, until April 3.
Registration fees paid by runners will be transferred and guaranteed for the next edition in 2021, when participants will receive two medals, one "as a symbol of resilience and perseverance", the other "as a metaphor for a double victory."
The running community dealt with the cancellation with "great humanity," flooding the social pages of the event with moving messages, Quinzi said.
More than 10,000 people signed up to run the Rome marathon this year.
Italy has seen more than 3,200 illnesses and 148 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, data from the Italian Ministry of Health.