The BBC, the UK’s public-service broadcaster, has renewed its domestic rights deal for athletics’ iconic London Marathon until 2026.

The five-year extension, agreed with organizer London Marathon Events, prolongs one of the longest partnerships in British sport which is now four decades old.

Since its inception in 1981, the event has never been covered by another domestic broadcaster.

This year’s London Marathon will take place on October 2 and then returns to its usual April slot on April 23, 2023.

The BBC was in danger of losing exclusive domestic rights to the London Marathon for the first time in the event’s 40-year history with Hugh Brasher, the LME director, revealing the organizers were in talks with other broadcasters after its previous contract with the BBC expired in 2021.

In addition to coverage of the London Marathon, the BBC will show the 2022 TCS Mini London Marathon, part of LME’s new initiatives to encourage physical activity among children.

The broadcaster will also provide coverage of other LME events, including The Big Half, the Vitality London 10,000, and the Vitality Westminster Mile, on the BBC Red Button service or other BBC digital platforms.

Brasher said: “Our partnership with the BBC goes back more than 40 years and the support of the BBC has been key to the development of the London Marathon.

“Together we have worked through many challenges over the years including, most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to elite-only races and the first virtual marathon in 2020.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership and very excited about our new initiative to inspire and encourage physical activity.”

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, added: “The London Marathon is an iconic event in the UK’s sporting calendar and one that we are thrilled to continue broadcasting for another five years.

“We look forward to showcasing the elite athletes from the race, as well as the inspiring and touching stories of the thousands of charity runners who take part each year.”