37th Oita International Wheelchair Marathon
Governor of Oita Prefecture
The Oita International Wheelchair Marathon was first held in 1981 in commemoration of the International Year of the Disabled as the world’s first international marathon event only for wheelchair users. The race is now officially recognized by the International Paralympic Committee, with athletes participating from the most countries and world records for both men and women, and has become the top wheelchair marathon event in the world.
At the 36th event last year, there were 44 athletes from 14 countries and 186 athletes from 31 prefectures around Japan, for a total of 230 participants. We made the start time one hour earlier to improve race conditions, and we lengthened the 5km checkpoint cutoff time for the half marathon by three minutes to make it easier for more participants. In addition, we were able to broadcast the race on live television for the first time, transmitting the greatness of para sports from here in Oita.
Through the harsh sport of marathon racing, the bravery of the athletes challenging their own limits gives courage and hope and impresses not only the people cheering along the course, but also many more people both in Oita and beyond.
I hope that this year’s event will be a heated race filled with excitement and drama, and that through the promotion of para sports we will be able to realize a society in which all people, both those with disabilities and those without, will be able to live rich, fulfilling lives together.
I look forward to seeing you as autumn deepens in Oita, the number one hot spring prefecture in Japan.