By Duncan Mackay

Chinese Japan_riots_September_2012September 19 - The Shanghai Marathon seems set to be the latest major sports event to be caught up in the worsening politicial crisis between China and Japan over over an uninhabited group of islands.

The race, which is due to take place on December 2, is sponsored by Japanese company Toray, that produces industrial products for technology companies. 

It is traditionally one of the best races on the calendar but its future has been placed in jeopardy by the escalating territorial dispute over a small island chain in the East China Sea administered by Japan under the name Senkaku, but vehemently claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

The Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau has released a statement that a "marathon sponsored by and named for a Japanese company is not suitable to be launched" given the crisis.

The race's web site states that registration for this year's race "has been postponed for some reason". 

Shanghai Marathon_2011Runners taking part in last year's Toray Shanghai Marathon

Today it emerged that 50 Chinese protesters had surrounded the official car of the United States Ambassador in Beijing, who escaped unharmed, while they were protesting outside the nearby Japanese Embassy.

More than 20 Chinese badminton players have withdrawn from this week's Japan Open, he eighth leg of the Super Series event, in Tokyo because they claimed that they feared for their safety. 

Chinese officials claim that the Shanghai Marathon, which has been held every year since 1996 will go ahead as planned, but were unable to provide any more details about when registration would reopen or which elite runners would take part.

The race, which also includes a half-marathon, last year attracted a field of nearly 30,000 with 5,000 foreign runners. 

The event was won by Kenya's Willy Kibor Koitile and Ethiopia's Kebebush Haile Lema.

Contaact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
September 2012: Chinese badminton players withdraw from Japan Open over safety fears