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Bangkok Midnight Marathon 2020 bans foreigners

Jack Burton



It’s official. The Bangkok Midnight Marathon 2020 is closed to foreigners. Popular blogger and Samut Prakan school employee Richard Barrow posted the news last night saying… “For some reason, the organisers of this year’s Bangkok Midnight Marathon have decided not to allow foreigners to run. I hope this doesn’t become part of the ‘new normal’.”

Unsurprisingly, the social media outrage was swift…

“Anyone who has lived in Thailand for any length of time should not be surprised by the institutionalised xenophobia. It’s not the fault of the average Thai, just the idiocy from above.”

“A good forum should be set up for all institutions and event organisers/companies that endorse this behaviour so we know who not to support in any format!”

Surely excluding foreigners from competing will devalue the achievement of those participating in the race. Did you win because you were the best… or only because the best were excluded?!

Even the Marathon office’s official Facebook page had these remarks posted on it…

“You don’t allow non-Thais to participate, so why is the banner in English? You only want English-speaking Thai nationals?”

“Unbelievable. I hope that no one will sign up for your race…”

“Why are expats this year not allowed to join the run ? Sorry to say, but this is pure racism not allowing foreigners, expats to participate in this marathon. We own companies here and want to support our Thai staff to run with them. Thailand is under a strict lockdown since April and every foreigner is either here since at least 4 month or was only able to enter under strict quarantine measurement.”

Reaction in the Twittersphere, however, was more muted, with comments like…

“Participants must be of Thai nationality, this has nothing to do with racism. There are also ‘Farangs’ or other ethnic groups with Thai nationality. It’s common to limit participation at sport events to nationality or age groups or genders or at least divide them into categories.”

“More likely paranoia than xenophobia. We all know Thais are afraid of Covid-19, and we all know it was brought into the country mainly by foreigners. The worst pandemic managed countries are in Europe and the Americas. Not difficult to understand why they made the decision!”

Bangkok Midnight Marathon 2020 bans foreigners | News by Thaiger

SOURCES: Richard Barrow in Thailand | Bangkok Midnight Marathon


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  1. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Friday, August 7, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    I don’t know if I would feel this is racism. If it was open to foreigners from some countries and not others then yes, I would. But if Thais wanted to have an event for just Thais then I wouldn’t feel discriminated against.

    • Avatar

      Nongnart Anan

      Saturday, August 8, 2020 at 9:45 pm

      Sport means equality. They should have a Marathon for whoever live there. Covid does not pick from colours or nationalities. Sometimes some people are just lack of common sense.

  2. Avatar

    Alan Detro

    Friday, August 7, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Expats and foreigners here MUST know who is sponsoring the race and be sure to BOYCOTT their products and services. I certainly will.

  3. Avatar

    Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

    Friday, August 7, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    Disgraceful….. People from other corona affected countries are not animals… Anyway logic or common sense does not apply in Thailand.

    Time will say…. How long Thai can sustain without foreigner especially ‘Tourist’.

    God save Thailand from Corona…. They neither have the courage nor any mindset to cope with corona…… Vaccine for everyone on this earth…if there will be any effective one???? sounds impractical to me….. This world will have to learn to live with Corona….. There is no other way….. Corona is not going to go away any time soon….

    Lots of countries have corona, and they started to accept it by subsiding the fear and trying to do everything with new normal.

    Thailand have no corona but there is still a pandemic in Thai ‘Xenophobia’ or ‘Covid-19 Phobia’. I really feel pity on them because they are scared like hell.

    God Bless Thailand….

  4. Avatar


    Friday, August 7, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    Same (no foreigners allowed) with Teelakow’s ‘Ultra Trail Koh Chiang’ in February 2021.

  5. Avatar

    Jean Gan

    Friday, August 7, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    The whole world is afraid of covid. People are now afraid of foreigners in every country. Can’t blame Thai people more than humanity.

    If vaccine doesn’t work as expected it could take years for people to accept risk of covid (which I think is really small for most of healthy people).

  6. Avatar


    Saturday, August 8, 2020 at 5:52 am

    Then , Thailand is sure to be on the podium this time !

  7. Avatar


    Saturday, August 8, 2020 at 9:19 am

    I’m not in the least bit offended. Actually, I expect this kind of behaviour from Thais.It’s quite normal.

  8. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, August 8, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Don’t bother about it.
    Foreigners had to pay over a B1000 last year, and I think Thais, B80.
    Without foreigners running they will lose a lot of money. Good.
    The west should give Thais some of this treatment and ban them from running marathons.
    Marathons are staged to make Thais money – from foreigners.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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