Tokyo - Organisers of the Beijing marathon on Nov25 have barred Japanese runners from taking part due to safety concerns after a flare-up in a territorial dispute between Japan and China, Japanese media reported yesterday.
"If they choose (to represent) other nationalities including China, (then) Japanese can take part," the newspaper Asahi Shimbun's online edition quoted a source at the organising committee as saying.
Chinese Internet users were divided over the report. Many cheered the decision to "kick out" Japanese, but some expressed disappointment with the government. "Sports should not be politicised. Otherwise, it'd show a lack of grace by China," read a post on popular portal Sina.
Japan's Kyodo news agency said the committee's decision may be "retaliation" by the Chinese authorities against Japan's purchase of part of the disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.
Already, 26,000 people have signed up for the marathon since registration began on Thursday, Asahi said. Japan was included in the nationality section in the online registration page until last year but the country's name has been deleted this year, it added.
Tokyo's nationalisation of the islands sparked violent mass anti-Japan demonstrations in Chinese cities in September.
Meanwhile, in view of China's growing military presence in the region, a Japanese official said Japan and the United States have agreed to discuss updating the 15-year-old guidelines on their security alliance.
After meeting high-level US officials, Senior Vice-Defence Minister Akihisa Nagashima told Japanese media in Washington last Friday that the US had also assured him that "the Obama administration's tendency to place emphasis on Asia will accelerate in its second term".