The Bangkok Midnight Marathon said today it is reviewing its policy on banning foreigners after weathering a barrage of criticism.
Race organizers will decide tomorrow how to respond to a controversy that’s emerged since it said it would bar entry to foreign nationals, a representative said by phone today. Though she declined to give her name, she cast doubt on whether excluding foreigners was actually its policy or the result of bad communication.
Registration was set to open tomorrow, but the event was already drawing dozens of angry comments decrying for racism after it published a statement the race would be “only for Thais.”
“[Y]es, the decision has been made this year the registration is available only for Thais,” it said in reply to a posted inquiry. “Sorry about that and hoping for your understanding.”
The message has since been deleted.
“Please explain how an expat living here in Thailand which has zero covid cases poses any threat to anyone?” user Ciaran McNeill wrote today. “This is absolute nonsense and xenophobia.”
He went on to say he would contact the international racing association the race belongs to.
The issue sprang to attention when travel blogger Richard Barrow, who has been using his platform to campaign against unfair, dual-pricing schemes, shared it on his page.
“Anyone who has lived in Thailand for any length of time should not be surprised by the institutionalized xenophobia,” Facebooker Andy Mead wrote in reply. “It’s not the fault of the average Thai, just the idiocy from above.”
Travel into Thailand remains severely limited over two months after any cases of domestic transmission were last recorded. Anxiety over its return has led to a number of exclusionary policies targeting foreigners, despite the fact that those in the country have either been here since before the pandemic began or undergone two weeks of mandatory quarantine upon their return.
Some temples, transportation and restaurants have been declared off-limits to non-Thais.
The race is scheduled to set off at midnight on Dec.13 from Sanam Chai Road and finish at the Giant Swing. Registration tomorrow at 9am until the end of October.
This article, Wrathful runners slam Bangkok marathon’s ban on foreigners, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!