Friday, February 20, 2015

Tokyo Marathon to Conduct Unprecedented Security Measures Against Runners

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Click here for the above article's graphic showing a runner in the Tokyo Marathon being followed by police and surveillance cameras above pictures and a list of banned items and activities including plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans, poison, explosives, scissors, box cutters, tear gas, clothing bearing advertising, clothing that might upset others, and music and dancing on the course.

Over fears generated by the Islamic State kidnapping of Japanese citizens and the rising threat of terrorism worldwide, participants in the Feb. 22 Tokyo Marathon will be subjected to unprecedented security measures.  The 36,000 participants will be prohibited from bringing plastic sports drink bottles to the start and will each be screened with metal detectors.  Police have more than doubled the number of surveillance cameras monitoring runners and spectators along the course, and 64 riot police will run carrying additional surveillance equipment, pepper-spray and other anti-personnel weaponry.  The total police and security presence will number more than 10000, both the public and private security sector working together to prevent terrorism in an important warmup for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Participants will be prohibited from bringing drinks or water in plastic bottles, cans or glass bottles. The number of start area access gates where runners will be scanned and searched has been increased from 2 to 6 with the number of metal detectors likewise increased from 4 to 50.  Once baggage has been searched it may absolutely not be taken into the start area.  Only unopened commercially-available paper drink packs and jelly drinks may be brought in, with a maximum of 200 ml per beverage and a strict limit of no more than 400 ml per person to prevent poison and explosives from being brought into the start area.

Plastic drink bottles can easily be made into liquid bombs and have been used in terrorist acts in the past.  Because proper pre-race hydration is important in the marathon, it is extremely unusual for a race to ban participants from bringing drinks.  Organizers will provide runners with drinks in paper cups at water stations after the start, but many of the amateur runners making up the field have expressed unhappiness at the measures, saying, "We can't run properly like this."  Tokyo Marathon Foundation Chief Operating Officer Masayuki Tezuka commented, "It might inconvenience the runners but they must understand that it is for security."


TokyoRacer said...

This is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. Tezuka is a moron.
So he thinks that a terrorist decided last August to bring a bottle of poisoned water to the marathon and he therefore entered the lottery and was lucky enough to win a place out of the 350,000 who applied?
Tezuka-san... the death of a Japanese journalist in Syria two weeks ago HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH the Tokyo Marathon. The runners applied for it six months ago!! And by the way, RUNNERS ARE NOT TERRORISTS. You are an idiot!!

TokyoRacer said...

Oh, and what exactly is the terrorist runner going to do with the bottle of poisoned water that he is carrying?

Brett Larner said...

I'd be more worried about what kind of security and vetting of volunteers they have on the drink stations if that's what they are really concerned about.

To be kind to Tezuka and the Tokyo Marathon Foundation, a lot of this is probably coming from the police/Abe gov't side and the TMF probably doesn't really have a lot of choice in implementing it if they want to keep their road closure permits.

But my bigger fear about this related to races is that others are going to start following Tokyo's model like they have in everything else. I already received an email today from someone on the organizing committee on a well-known Japanese elite/amateur race asking if I could consult with them on improving their security measures.

And, needless to say, bigger fears about what it really means.

Metts said...

Either participants will adjust to the new security measures or they won't try to run or enter the race. Just like at airports etc. Unfortunatley its the world we live in now. There might be over-reaction now and or a lot of PR to ensure a race is safe. I'm sure many marthones etc will try many differnt things before 2020.

Metts said...

I personally don't have a problem with the ban on water bottles. Runners will need to adjust and make sure they are hydrated before they get to the starting line. Maybe I'm old school but I never had a water bottle at the starting line. The things they are banning are similar to what you check off, no, at Narita and Haneda when you go through customs. Who is going to admit to bringing in a banned substance or thing. Advertising on singlets or kits, I guess only the pros are allowed that. Dancing and singing, well maybe the hobby joggers. What about all the clubs that sing and dance along the course? How about banning costumes too? Its a race not a stroll through Tokyo.