Image credit: @gadgetdan.
Though the Shanghai Marathon petulantly ditched Japanese sponsor Toray over the ongoing Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands kerfuffle, it seems a beacon of tolerance compared to the Beijing Marathon which has banned Japanese people completely.
The Marathon, due to take place on November 25th, has barred Japanese runners from taking part due to “safety concerns”.
“If they choose other nationalities including China, Japanese can take part,” the Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted a source at the organising committee as saying.
Despite the organising committee’s outward ‘concern’ for Japanese athletes, this is most likely motivated by a desire to curry favour with Chinese nationalists than any real fear that Japanese runners will be lynched.
Japanese figure skating stars took part without any incident in the Cup of China Grand Prix event in Shanghai last week as they were escorted by bodyguards and Chinese-speaking coordinators.
Update #1: Beijing marathon spokesperson Shen Chunde has claimed that this is all one big misunderstanding, the organisers didn’t ban all Japanese runners, just individual Japanese runners:
“As far as last year’s registration concerned, it was rare that Japanese runners signed up online individually. Basically they applied through Japanese enterprises,” Shen explained.
“So this year, we remained to accept group registration because it is convenient for the Japanese participants to look after each other and also it is easy to handle in terms of picking up competition numbers and outfits. Therefore, there was no registration option for individual Japanese marathon fans,” Shen said.
“Since Japanese runners are enthusiastic and would like to apply as individuals, we will open this channel,” Shen said.
Shen didn’t explain why individual runners of any other nation were able to register, but that it was more “convenient” to only allow Japanese groups.
Let us reflect on what Jiang Yu, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said in 2008 regarding Tibetan protests of the Olympic Torch route, “sports should not be politicized”. Quite.
[H/T: Teemu, Yaya]