THE BBC could lose the rights to broadcast the London Marathon after four decades of coverage.
New contract terms have yet to be agreed for next year between marathon bosses and the TV channel, who have televised the event live since its inception in 1981.
The existing deal was signed in 2018 but will expire after Sunday’s race along the streets of London.
It comes after the corporation chose not to extend its £3million deal with UK Athletics for live track-and-field events.
The BBC was also outbid by Channel 4 this month for shared coverage with Amazon Prime for the final of the US Open which saw qualifier Emma Raducanu crowned a major champion.
Race director Hugh Brasher expects a decision to be made by the end of this year and he said: “This is one of the crown jewels of British sport.
“There is the FA Cup, there is the Grand National, the Boat Race, Wimbledon tennis, and the London Marathon.
“All the other events have been around for over 150 years. The London Marathon is 40 years.
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“It’s incredible what we’ve become in that time, and we do not take that in any way lightly.
“It is fair to say we are talking to other terrestrial broadcasters. It is likely an announcement will be made this year.
“What has been proven is that it inspires people because it’s accessible to everybody. And the more that people can see that – that is why it is so important this event is seen on terrestrial TV.
“We’ve had the most amazing partnership with the BBC. In 2020 the London Marathon was up for a BAFTA, eight-and-a-half hours of coverage from around the world.
“We want that incredible coverage to continue. And it will continue. We have a duty as an organiser to make sure it does.”
More than 40,000 runners will take to the streets of London and about 40,000 will cover 26.2miles remotely on their own course, making it the biggest marathon race in history.
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk