Friday, June 11, 2010

Planned New 'Tokyo Marathon Foundation' Pledged to be Corruption-Free

translated and edited by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

At the regular meeting of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on June 8, Metropolitan Government officials held a public question and answer session with representatives of the four major political parties. Among the topics was the planned incorporation of a "Tokyo Marathon Foundation" to oversee management of the event's future. The Minshu Party questioned whether the Foundation would be merely "a cushy perk for upper-level bureaucrats leaving direct public service." Metropolitan officials explained, "The Foundation will serve to maintain the race's organization and thereby allow it to operate as a world-class marathon event. There will be no favoritism for government officials in obtaining positions in the Foundation."

Having been held four times since its inception in 2007, the Tokyo Marathon has thus far been operated by a committee consisting of members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese athletics federation Rikuren and the media. Now the Metropolitan Government is planning to spend $8 million to establish the Tokyo Marathon Foundation. Minshu Party representatives questioned whether this move is in opposition to ongoing administrative reforms. An official from the Metropolitan Government's Lifestyle, Culture and Sports Bureau answered, "By unifying responsibilities, the race administration will become more efficient and the financial burden upon the Metropolitan Government will be reduced." The official also stated that the contract laying out the terms for the business the Foundation will receive from the Metropolitan Government is subject to the Government's standard disclosure policies.

Jimin Party representatives gave a positive evaluation of the proposal, saying, "By incorporating the event's management they will be able to meet the race's needs and stabilize its operation." Mayor Shintaro Ishihara commented, "The Tokyo Marathon has had a very positive response from overseas. It is like a large festival uniting the city through thousands of volunteers and spectators coming together. We hope to use the advantages brought by incorporating the race to help the Tokyo Marathon become a major charity fundraiser and the world's greatest marathon event."

Yoshio Koide, the famed coach of Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former marathon world record holder Naoko Takahashi, visited with Metropolitan Government officials the same day to voice his support for the establishment of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation. "The Tokyo Marathon is far too large-scale an event to be handled by City Hall," he told them. "The move to incorporate the race's management will have untold benefits and will significantly help to pull in the needed major corporate sponsors. Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin and the other big races all do it that way, so we should do it here in Japan. I strongly urge you to take this step."

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