The organizers of the Beijing marathon stated on Saturday that they would not be allowing Japanese runners to participate. The marathon is scheduled to be held on Sunday, November 25th, and its website no longer lists Japan as one of the nations taking part. No official reason for the move has been listed, but members of the organizing committee in China say the decision was made with the safety of the athletes in mind.
Registration for the marathon began on Thursday of last week, and already 26,000 runners have signed up. Until this year, Japan has always been one of the nationalities available to choose from on the application. This, combined with a lack of any Japanese companies, such as Canon, sponsoring the event, and it doesn’t take much to see that this could be further aggression related to the Japan-China territorial dispute over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands. But maybe the organizers are just trying to keep all the athletes in mind by preventing the dispute from becoming an issue at the run. The Chinese committee members themselves said that Japanese people could still technically participate, but they would have to choose another nationality on their registration.
The Beijing marathon is not a new event by any means, as it has been held every fall since 1981. Maybe the real issue is that the organizers have become a tad jealous that the Tokyo marathon, held in February, is now recognized as the sixth major run in the world, joining the marathons in Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London, and New York.[via Channel News Asia]