Japanese barred from Beijing marathon in 'safety measure'
Organisers say they are protecting runners from potential animosity over islands row
Agence France-Presse in Tokyo
Organisers of the Beijing Marathon have barred Japanese runners from taking part due to safety concerns after a fresh flare-up in a territorial dispute between Japan and China, a report said yesterday.
"If they choose [to represent] other nationalities, including China, Japanese can take part," the influential Asahi newspaper's online edition quoted a source at the organising committee of the November 25 marathon as saying.
The committee made the decision on the basis of the safety of athletes, the daily said in a report from the Chinese capital.
Japanese companies such as Canon had sponsored the annual event until last year, but they are not sponsoring it this year.
Already 26,000 people had signed up for the marathon since its registration process began on Thursday, Asahi said.
Japan was included in the nationality section in the marathon's online registration page until last year, but had been deleted this year, it added.
In Beijing, officials from the organising committee were not immediately available to comment on the report.
Japan's nationalisation of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China calls the Diaoyus, sparked violent mass anti-Japan demonstrations in Chinese cities in September. Japanese nationals, businesses and missions were targeted.
Japanese and Chinese athletes have since pulled out of several sporting events in both countries due to safety concerns.
But Japanese figure-skating stars took part without incident in the Cup of China Grand Prix in Shanghai last week, escorted by bodyguards and Chinese-speaking co-ordinators.