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International claim too often rings hollow

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-10 07:46

AN INCREASING NUMBER of Chinese cities are hosting what they call international marathons. For these events to prosper, the organizers and sponsors need to think beyond commercial promotions and publicity stunts. said on Wednesday:

The number of Chinese cities hosting international marathon events is on the rise as more Chinese develop a taste for long-distance running as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Local governments also like to host marathons as they view it as an ideal opportunity to make their cities internationally known, which explains why many marathon events have the term "international" in their names.

But, to the dismay of many, most of the so-called international marathons in the country are still miles away from acquiring the image they are trying to build. In many cases, they tend to pay for the participation of some leading foreign marathon runners and grant overseas applicants easier access.

For instance, according to the rules of next year's Xiamen International Marathon in East China's Fujian province, applicants with foreign citizenship will automatically qualify while Chinese citizens will be chosen by lottery.

But if the organizers open the race to all there would not be enough foreign runners to justify calling the races international.

What really defines a marathon as an international event is its attractiveness to runners around the world. Among the 51,999 participants from some 155 countries and regions in last year's New York Marathon, over 40 percent of them were from outside the United States, contributing handsomely to local tourism and hotel industry during their stay.

Since China's "marathon economy" is yet to take off, local governments and marathon sponsors need to work harder to ensure their events are genuinely international by attracting more foreign participants.


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