Tokyo Marathon 2025 To Include Nonbinary and Disabled People

Tokyo Marathon 2025 To Include Nonbinary and Disabled People

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Nonbinary marathon
Picture: Canva
The Tokyo Marathon, saying it wants to be the most inclusive race in the world, is adding nonbinary and Duo categories this year.

Japan has faced international scrutiny for its harsh treatment of non-traditional gender identities. While the only G7 nation that has yet to legalize same-sex marriage has a long way to go, the next Tokyo Marathon plans to put inclusivity on full display.

Tokyo Marathon to be more inclusive

Picture: papilio / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

The Tokyo Marathon will add a non-binary category for runners starting next year, as all six World Marathon Majors have done. In another step towards inclusivity, Tokyo will introduce the opportunity for people with cerebral palsy and other conditions to participate.  

The Tokyo Marathon Foundation said in a statement on Monday that it “will be adding the non-binary option to gender selection and trialing the introduction of Duo Teams” from the March 2025 race.

The Duo Team program consists of teams of two runners––one that pushes a “customized special buggy,” in which goes the second who has a permanent physical disability that inhibits their ability to walk and run. Only the Boston Marathon has included Duo teams so far.

Organizers also made a bid “to be the most inclusive race in the world” as they plan to accommodate “diverse gender identities” by providing “changing rooms and toilets that are open to all.”

Slow race to change

A runners’ non-binary division first became available at the 2022 New York City Marathon. Since then, the other five major marathons––Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, and now, Tokyo––have caught up.

The next Tokyo Marathon is set for March 2nd, 2025 and has a field size of 38,000 runners. The entry period starts on August 1st this year through online registration.

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Although Japan has become more LGBTQ-friendly in the last decade, it remains the only G7 country not to give legal recognition to same-sex marriages or offer legal protection against discrimination. (Italy does not recognize same-sex marriage in name but recognizes civil unions that confer the same legal protections.)

Still, experts say that the addition of non-binary identification at the Tokyo Marathon is a step forward.

Progress and setbacks

LGBT pride or LGBTQ+ gay pride with rainbow flag for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people human rights social equality movements in June month
Picture: Chinnapong / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

In addition to making progress in the realm of sports, Japan has recently seen major wins for transgender people in the legal sphere.

Last summer, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled on workplace rights for sexual minorities, siding with a transgender plaintiff. In July 2023, the top court found that it was illegal for a government ministry to restrict a transgender employee from using the women’s toilet at the workplace.

In October, the high court struck down a law requiring sterilization for gender change. The law––a clause in Article 3 of the Act on Special Cases Handling Gender Status for Persons with Gender Identity Disorder––was deemed “unconstitutional and invalid.”

These landmark rulings may have inspired hope for bigger change but are standalone cases that cannot rectify broader issues in the workplace for LGBTQ rights and child custody.

Most LGBTQ individuals felt that their workplace did not have enough protective measures in place, most reporting that no efforts were made in their support, in a 2022 survey. The same year, a transgender woman was denied legal parental rights to her own biological child.

What to read next

Sources

東京マラソン ランナーのカテゴリー「ノンバイナリー」追加へ. NHK

東京マラソンの性別選択に「ノンバイナリー枠」 2025年3月2日開催、一般エントリーは8月16日から. 東京新聞

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