Beijing marathon accepts Japan runners: reports

Beijing marathon organisers have reversed a decision to refuse Japanese runners, reports said.

Japanese runners had been barred from taking part in the November 25 event due to concerns for their safety as tensions between the two countries ran high over a territorial dispute.

But officials have now updated their website to include "Japan" in the list of applicants' nationalities, after the Japanese Embassy in Beijing lodged a protest, the leading Yomiuri Shimbun daily and Jiji Press said.

A source at the organising committee had earlier said "If they choose other nationalities including China, Japanese can take part," the Asahi Shimbun daily's online edition had reported Saturday.

Japanese companies such as Canon had sponsored the annual event until last year but they did not renew their deal this year.

In Beijing, officials from the organising committee were not immediately available to comment on the report.

The two countries have been at odds over the sovereignty of the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

Tokyo's nationalisation of islands that are at the centre of a territorial row with Beijing sparked violent mass anti-Japan demonstrations in Chinese cities in September. Japanese nationals, businesses and diplomatic missions were targeted.

Japanese and Chinese athletes have since pulled out of several sporting events in both countries due to safety concerns.

But Japanese figure skating stars took part without any incident in the Cup of China Grand Prix event in Shanghai last week as they were escorted by bodyguards and Chinese-speaking coordinators.

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