Bangkok, 14 March, 2017 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has provided special support to the Ayutthaya “Kizuna” Ekiden 2017 – 130th Anniversary of Thailand and Japan Foreign Relationship long-distance relay running race, which took place on 12 March at Ayutthaya Historical Park, Ayutthaya.
Presided over by H.E. General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, the friendship race was jointly organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, two of Japan’s leading media organisations – Mainichi Newspapers and RKB Mainichi Broadcasting, and Bank of Ayudhya Public Company Limited.
Ms. Runjuan Tongrut, TAT Executive Director of the East Asia Region said, “We are proud to support the Ayutthaya “Kizuna” Ekiden 2017, which has been organised to celebrate 130 years of official diplomatic relations between Thailand and Japan. Ayutthaya also boasts beautiful scenery, cultural and historical heritage sites, as well as hundreds of Japanese factories, making it the perfect venue for the event.”
Ekiden, a type of long-distance relay running race, has long been popular in Japan with the first being sponsored in 1917. The race requires a team effort with each member running a set distance with a cloth sash, or tasuki, which is then handed off to the next runner in the team. The event in Ayutthaya was jointly organised by Japan’s Mainichi Newspapers and RKB Mainichi Broadcasting, which have organised and sponsored many events of this type in Japan and other countries.
The Ayutthaya “Kizuna” Ekiden 2017 attracted about 400 four-member teams with each member of the team running three kilometres each of the 12-kilometre distance. In total, 1,600 runners took part, with 60 per cent being Thai and 40 per cent being Japanese, to represent the bond between the two nations. Of the Japanese runners, 90 per cent are expats or tourists in Thailand with 10 per cent of the Japanese contingent coming to Thailand especially for this event, some of them famous Japanese runners.
The event has been widely promoted in Japan by Mainichi Newspapers and RKB Mainichi Broadcasting. On the race day itself, there were broadcasting and filming of the event with a focus on some of the interesting attractions to be found in Ayutthaya. This intensive coverage was expected to reach an audience of over 15 million, via the Mainichi Newspaper as well as the television programmes broadcast locally and nationally via RKB Mainichi Broadcasting and the BS-TBS channels.
Ms. Runjuan added, “We hope that this big event was enjoyed by runners and viewers both in Thailand and Japan. It will not only be a great way to celebrate the links between the two nations, but allow everyone to see how the kingdom is a perfect venue for hosting memorable sporting events.”
Apart from the race, there were many performances from both Thailand and Japan; such as, a Muay Thai contemporary dance, Thai traditional swordplay dance (Krabi Krabong), Taiko (Japanese drum) – Thai drum battle, and Japanese traditional fan dance.
In 2016, Thailand welcomed 1.43 million tourists from Japan, up 4.19 per cent on 2015, and generated more than 61 million Baht to Thailand’s tourism revenue. For 2017, TAT expects a year-on-year growth of 2.84 per cent on arrival numbers and 7.79 per cent on tourism revenue.