The 35-year-old, who holds the world records in the 5K and 10K, told an Ethiopian media outlet that he was "not fit to compete at the event." Bekele removed himself from consideration for selection.
Bekele was also left off the Ethiopian team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, as he failed to achieve the time standard in the 10K and the Ethiopian federation felt he "had not run enough big races over the past year" to earn a spot in the marathon, despite taking third in 2:06 at the London Marathon in April. He did not race in 2015.
He won the Berlin Marathon last September in 2:03:03, barely behind Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02.57. Bekele announced his intent to break Kimetto's world record this year, but his two attempts were thwarted: he fell at the start of the Dubai Marathon and later dropped out, then ran 2:05.57 at the London Marathon for second place behind Daniel Wanjiru.
Other items of note on the Ethiopian roster:
- Genzebe Dibaba will double in the 1500m and 5K, the same feat she pulled off to a gold and bronze medal, respectively, in 2015. She also set the 1500m world record at 3:50.07 in 2015.
- Almaz Ayana, who set the 10K world record en route to gold at the Rio Games, will double in the 5K and 10K. She is the defending world champion over 5K but has not raced in 2017 due to injury.