A couple of months ago I wrote a post on the fact that sports and politics don’t go together in China. Among others I wrote that the Beijing Marathon would not take place in mid-October because of the 18th Party Congress. I felt bad for the runners who had trained hard for this event, but luckily for them the race was eventually just postponed (Interesting fact: the Party Congress was also postponed, so in hindsight the marathon could have just taken place on its original date).
However, if you are a Japanese national you are out of luck, because the organization won’t let you participate. Officially for ‘safety reasons’, but I suspect that it’s just a case of bullying the Japanese because of the ongoing affair with the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. It’s really sad that this is happening. To be honest, I probably would not join the marathon if the organizers were stopping one nationality from participating.
I wonder if main sponsor Hyundai (a Korean brand, not Japanese) agrees with the exclusion of Japanese runners. And do the other partners, such as Adidas and Gatorade, know that this happening? It’s a bloody shame if they do and if they don’t pull out because of this.
I went to the Beijing Marathon site to check if it’s really true that Japanese can’t join, but after registering as a user I could not continue the registration process because I did not receive their confirmation email. Maybe they put all registrations on hold because people started complaining to the press?
Because I plan to participate in the Shanghai marathon on Dec. 2, I immediately checked their website as well. The Shanghai Marathon kicked out their Japanese sponsor (they were forced to do so by the government), so I was a bit worried that they would also not allow Japanese to join. But luckily that was not the case, so if you are Japanese and living in China (and you’re not sick and tired of all the anti-Japanese campaigns that don’t seem to stop) you could potentially still run in Shanghai.
Update (Nov. 12): The Beijing Marathon responded and now says Japanese can sign up. They changed it because “Japanese normally don’t sign up individually”. My take: pure damage control, because they didn’t realize that media would pick up this story.