Chinese netizens criticize holding Tokyo Marathon amid virus outbreak


Some Chinese internet users expressed disbelief and criticism over Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon, calling the decision to hold the event despite the coronavirus outbreak a “death wish.”

As daily infection numbers in China continue to drop following unprecedented containment measures, there is a growing expectation among Chinese citizens that other countries should take similar measures and make sacrifices to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Around 200 elite competitors ran in the Tokyo Marathon after the epidemic forced organizers to scale back the race, slashing around 38,000 general category runners.

Despite encouragement to watch the race via broadcast, an estimated 72,000 spectators stood along the route in central Tokyo, many of them wearing protective face masks.

Such a turnout prompted shocked Chinese netizens to mockingly commend the Japanese for their fearlessness and ability to continue burying their heads in the sand as part of an “ostrich policy” in fighting the epidemic.

Posts with the hash tag “ostrich policy” earned tens of thousands of likes accompanied by thousands of frustrated comments over Japan’s so-called carelessness.

“The Japanese are not afraid. They think it’s just a bad cold,” a user wrote on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

“The Chinese people have done a heartbreaking job to prevent the spread of the virus to people around the world, but the athletes don’t care,” wrote another. Many simply commented “death wish.”

Around 960 infections have been confirmed in Japan, including more than 700 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama.

Amid fast growing outbreaks in neighboring Japan and South Korea, the Chinese government has strengthened restrictions against inbound travelers, reducing flights between China and the two countries and re-enforcing a 14-day quarantine and observation on all people coming into cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

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