Aoi Kodama, foreground, on the tracks in August (Provided by the Japan Keirin Autorace Foundation) FUKUOKA—Like their male counterparts, women in the keirin bicycle racing circuit must endure grueling training sessions and risk broken bones and other serious injuries in the fierce, gravity-defying competitions.
But unlike the men, the female racers have been required to perform certain other activities to promote the sport, including acting like “sweet” girls from pop idol groups.
Thankfully for the cyclists, the Japan Keirin Autorace Foundation (JKA) is revamping its approach to Girls Keirin, the women’s event that started 11 years ago.
Instead of focusing on the women’s physical appearances, the JKA has started emphasizing their strength, athleticism and professionalism to advertise the sport.
“If (our female racers) are recognized broadly as athletes, it will help to revitalize the sport across the board,” a JKA official said.
The reform comes amid the global trend to fight sexism and hold companies and organizations responsible for ensuring gender equality, JKA officials said.
Female cyclists had requested improvements in the racing system and other aspects so that Girls Keirin would be operated in the same manner as the men’s keirin. OLYMPIC SPORT In a keirin race, a lineup of nine male or seven female cyclists race around the banked tracks of a velodrome over distances ranging from roughly 1,500 to 2,000 meters. Keirin became an official Olympic event at the 2000 Sydney Games.At keirin events in Japan, betting by the fans is a common occurrence, as are accidents and injuries on the tracks.Girls […]
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