The Junior World Orienteering Championships is going on in Turkey. Of all the IOF member federations in the Asian region, only Japan sent a team. (We’re not counting the host Turkey in as it’s a European federation.)
Less Asian teams in JWOC than WOC
Like in WOC, Asian teams are not participating because they face lengthy quarantines back home even if they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, it’s not just the pandemic—Asian teams have long been lightly represented in JWOC compared to WOC (World Orienteering Championships), with only Hong Kong and Japan having sent teams in JWOC 2019 and 2018. (Chinese Taipei, the name Taiwan uses in sports, last sent a JWOC team in 2017.) In contrast, athletes from China, North Korea and South Korea, in addition to Japan and Hong Kong, participated in WOC 2019 in Norway.
Japanese runners going strong
There are 3 male and 3 female Japanese runners at JWOC 2021, who are getting great results. Besides outcompeting many European athletes, Seiya Morikiyo successfully got into the Men’s A Final in Middle Distance and finished 37th out of 60 runners.
First JWOC in Asia (geographically)
In case you don’t know, JWOC 2021 made orienteering history as it’s the first time the Championships is held in geographical Asia, although still by a European federation. JWOC 2021 takes place in Gebze, Kocaeli Province, southeast of Istanbul.
Overall, this is the second JWOC to be held outside of geographical Europe (preceded by JWOC 2007 in Australia). (Japan held WOC in 2005; it has yet to organise a JWOC.)
With the rise in prominence of more Asian countries in orienteering, it’s expected that more teams will be joining JWOC in the future.