Japanese riders and personnel out of Tour of China due to international tensions
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Japanese riders and personnel out of Tour of China due to international tensions

by VeloNation Press at 9:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Political row having an effect on sporting events

Tour of ChinaEscalating diplomatic tension between China and Japan over the controversial purchase of islands in the South China Sea – called the Senkaku by Tokyo and the Diaoyo by Beijing – has spilled over into the sporting arena, with the international row having an effect on the Tour of China.

All of the Japanese riders and personnel have been asked to leave the race by the organisers. This includes the six riders on the Aisan team, including Taiji Nishitani, as well as the anti-doping commissaire. It is not clear if the organisers had themselves been instructed by others to take the step.

The 2.1 Tour of China has been run off this year as two separate races in order to maximise the number of areas that can be visited. Tour of China One ran from September 7th to 13th and saw the Christina Watches Onfone team take the first four places overall via Martin Pedersen, Stefan Schumacher, Michael Rasmussen and Daniel Foder.

Nishitani won a stage in the race, and had been fired up to chase more success in the Tour of China Two, which had more stages conducive to his particular abilities.

The 6.2 kilometre prologue of that race took place earlier today and there Schumacher triumphed ahead of Cameron Wurf (Champion System) and Vitaliy Popkov (ISD). The six Japanese riders took part, with Kazuhiro Mori best in 27th
The race will continue after a one day gap on Tuesday with the Huainan Circuit Race. The peloton will line out there intent on fighting for the prizes on offer, but the Japanese riders and officials will no longer be part of the event due to matters completely unrelated to bike racing.

Contacted by VeloNation, the UCI said it couldn't comment on the matter at that point in time.

Tensions between China and Japan have reached their highest level since 2010 over the sale of the islands from a private Japanese owner to the country’s government. China had warned the country not to purchase the islands, which are believed to be surrounded by energy-rich waters.

On Friday China sent six surveillance ships to the islands. Yesterday, thousands of Chinese protested outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing over the matter.


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