Runners at the Tokyo Marathon in 2012. Photo courtesy: WMC
Organizers of the Tokyo Marathon 2015, which will be held Sunday February 22nd, are strengthening security following the deaths of two Japanese hostages last month at the hands of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS).
“We have held anti-terrorism drills and have worked closely with the police agency so we are confident of delivering a safe race,” Koji Sakurai, the race’s president said in an interview with the Associated Press.
In 2013, the race was listed on the World Marathon Majors including Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin and New York. Around 30,000 runners are expected to take part in the marathon and more than 1.5 million spectators are going to cheer them on, but fears of a possible attack are heightened.
Two years ago, the Boston Marathon was the target of a bombing that killed three and injured over 250. Following this incident, the Tokyo Marathon 2014 had increased security and an increased number of police officers present.
The number of police officer will be the same this year as it was last; however, 64 “Running Police” with nightsticks, whistles and tear-gas will run in groups covering 10 km each of the 42 km race to mingle with the runners.
“Ensuring the safety of everyone involved is the top priority when holding this marathon,” a foundation official said. “The marathon will be held under tight security, but we want participants to run with peace of mind.”
The runners are also not allowed to carry plastic water bottles while running; however, they will be allowed to carry a wearable banana from Dole, so not everyone is taking the increased security measures too seriously.