translated and edited by Brett Larner
Rikuren announced on Jan. 17 that the IAAF has granted the Fukuoka International Marathon its highest ranking, a gold label. Having been upgraded from silver label status, along with March's Biwako Mainichi Marathon and February's Tokyo Marathon, Fukuoka, scheduled for Dec. 4, is now the third race within Japan to receive the gold label distinction. Among the factors considered in the rankings were the number and quality of elite athletes, the prize purse, the scale of television broadcast including an international broadcast, the presence of anti-doping measures, and the organizational strength of the event. Fukuoka cleared all criteria, joining the ranks of other major races in important cities around the world including the London and New York City marathons.
Translator's note: One of the two major criteria cited in the Tokyo Marathon initially receiving a silver label several years ago was that it did not have both elite men's and women's fields, an original requirement for a gold label. Biwako (Lake Biwa) received a gold label without a women's field in an apparent bid to save it from going under after the loss of main sponsor Rohm. Fukuoka now joins Biwako in receiving a gold label without a women's field. Japan's elite women-only marathons Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama have yet to receive the same preferential treatment and remain silver label events.
The lack of an international broadcast was also cited in Tokyo not initially receiving a gold label. Although Biwako, Tokyo and Fukuoka now hold gold labels and the articles above cite the international broadcast requirement the actual existence of an internationally-available broadcast of any of the three races remains unclear. Perhaps another criterion in the awarding of a gold label is the extent of international financial transactions. Anyone with additional information on the awarding of gold labels to these three Japanese races please feel free to contact us.