JA­PAN RUN­NER BAN

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties ap­par­ently have barred Ja­panese run­ners from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the an­nual Bei­jing Marathon, sched­uled for Nov. 25.

“Ja­pan” was re­moved re­cently from the na­tion­al­ity op­tions in the or­ga­niz­ers’ reg­is­tra­tion web­site. Should a Ja­panese run­ner want to par­tic­i­pate, that run­ner would have to reg­is­ter as be­long­ing to an­other na­tion­al­ity.

Ja­pan’s press had a field day crit­i­ciz­ing the na­tion­ally in­sult­ing mea­sure. Since the marathon’s in­au­gu­ral run in 1981, Ja­panese run­ners have par­tic­i­pated in all its an­nual run­ning events.

As of Nov. 12, more 30,000 peo­ple had reg­is­tered for this year’s Bei­jing Marathon, ac­cord­ing to the event’s of­fi­cial web­site. None of the listed run­ners is Ja­panese.

China ap­par­ently im­posed the ban in re­tal­i­a­tion for Tokyo’s re­cent de­ci­sion to na­tion­al­ize three of the Senkaku Is­lands, which Bei­jing says be­long to China.

Fac­ing in­ter­na­tional criticism and pos­si­ble sanc­tions from world sport­ing au­thor­i­ties, Chi­nese of­fi­cials re­cently rushed to the pub­lic stage to ex­plain the ban.

Through state-run me­dia, the Bei­jing Marathon or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee is­sued a state­ment af­ter Ja­pan’s Ky­odo News Agency re­ported the story. The state­ment said the rea­son for bar­ring Ja­panese run­ners was “safety con­cerns” for them. It did not elab­o­rate.

The of­fi­cial Chi­nese ex­pla­na­tion failed to con­vince most Ja­panese.

The Bei­jing Marathon banned Ja­panese spon­sors as well, the first time such a ban has been ap­plied in the marathon’s his­tory. Up to now, Ja­panese cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing All Nip­pon Air­ways and Canon, were ma­jor spon­sors of the event.

De­spite vi­o­lent at­tacks on all things Ja­panese and Ja­panese-speak­ing peo­ple in China af­ter the out­break of bi­lat­eral ten­sions over the dis­puted is­lands sev­eral months ago, Ja­panese ath­letes also took part un­mo­lested in other high­pro­file events.

On Nov. 3, Ja­panese fig­ure skaters Mao Asada beat Rus­sia’s Ju­lia Lip­nit­skaia and Fin­land’s Ki­ira Korpi to win the Cup of China. Ms. Asada’s com­pa­triot, Tat­suki Machida, won the men’s sin­gles in Shang­hai at the same event — all with­out any in­ci­dents.

Miles Yu can be reached at mmi­leyu@gmail.com.

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