Organizers 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.
“If they choose other nationalities including China, Japanese can take part,” the influential newspaper Asahi Shimbun’s online edition quoted a source at the organising committee of the November 25 marathon as saying.
The committee made the decision by taking into consideration 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 have 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 has been deleted this year, it added.
In Beijing, officials from the organizing committee were not immediately available to comment on the report.
Tokyo’s nationalization of islands that are at the center of a territorial row with Beijing sparked violent mass anti-Japan demonstrations in Chinese cities in September. Japanese nationals, businesses and diplomatic 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 any incident in the Cup of China Grand Prix event in Shanghai last week as they were escorted by bodyguards and Chinese-speaking coordinators.