Skip to main content

China to Triple Number of Police for Olympic Women`s Marathon

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080726-00000092-sph-soci

translated by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin

China announced on July 25th that it will be dramatically increasing the number of police on the street during the Olympic women`s marathon in order to protect Japanese athletes and fans, tripling the number of street patrols and course guards in areas which are expected to have large numbers of Japanese supporters. The government has taken this unusually strict action to prevent trouble during the women`s marathon in light of the fact that both Japan and China are fielding favorites for the gold medal. In the past Beijing has experienced large public demonstrations against Japan, and it is expected that the battle in the women`s marathon will lead to an even more heated clash between supporters off the course.

The Japanese team features exceptionally strong members including Mizuki Noguchi, 30, who is going for her second straight gold medal. Large numbers of Japanese supporters are expected in Beijing because of the likelihood of a Japanese runner scoring a medal. China`s team features 2007 Osaka World Championships silver medalist Zhou Chunxiu, 29, also a major contender for an Olympic medal.

A serious clash between the two runners` supporters along the course is expected to occur. According to a Chinese government source, the Chinese police expect about 1000 Japanese exchange students and residents of China to gather at a major subway station located near the 35 km point of the Olympic marathon course. Large numbers of police including undercover agents will be positioned in this area.

In 2004, shortly after former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Tokyo`s Yasukuni shrine*, thousands of Chinese fans in Beijing became unruly after Japan`s victory at a soccer game between the two countries` national teams and attacked vehicles belonging to the Japanese embassy. In 2005, more than 10,000 people took part in an anti-Japan demonstration, throwing stones at the Japanese embassy and destroying many Japanese-owned businesses in the city.

However, bilateral relations improved after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China in October, 2006. In May this year, Chinese President Hu Jintao made the first offical visit to Japan by a Chinese leader in over 10 years, illustrating the improved relationship between the two nations. Nevertheless, as a member of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out, "When national pride has been damaged it cannot heal so quickly."

In terms of the women`s marathon, the Chinese government is concerned that because of the nature of the marathon it is difficult to control access to the course. It is not a closed venue in which only those who purchased tickets can get close to athletes, but rather one in which anyone may watch and anything could happen. In the Athens Olympics men`s marathon a man broke onto the course and interrupted the race by attacking one of the runners, leading Japanese Rikuren officials to hope that China will strictly enforce course security. Rikuren marathon division director Tadasu Kawano said, "It`s too late when something has already happened, so I want China to guard our runners strictly."

Japanese fans going to cheer the women`s marathon have been advised to carry both the Japanese and Chinese flags to show sensitivity to Chinese feeling. Mineki Komma, a Japanese exchange student who has been living in Beijing for 3 years, commented, "I think it`s scary because when a lot of Japanese people gather here you don`t know what`s going to happen."

*Translator`s note: Former Prime Minister Koizumi`s visits to honor Japan`s war dead at Yasukuni Shrine were a contentious issue for China and South Korea as by visiting he payed his respects to the Class A war criminals enshrined therein who led Japan`s occupation of China and Korea before and during World War II.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I have met and trained with all 3 Japanese women in the Olympic marathon. I hope that there will be some serious repercussions, such as the forfeit of the results of the Chinese runners, if the Japanese runners are attacked.

I think that the entire marathon course should be lined with police and fences.

This is SPORTS, not war! Can't we all just get along and enjoy the races?

Most-Read This Week

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…