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Japanese Keirin

All text below taken VERBATIM from the Official 1996 Japan Keirin Association brochure

The Thrill of Keirin

While the attraction of Keirin professional bicycle racing does of course lie in the spectacle of superbly trained athletes thrusting forward on their specially built racing machines towards the finish line at speeds of up to 70 kph, the race is also a kind of puzzle whose solution can be achieved by a process of deduction. Not to be forgotten, as well as, is the fun of the wager, the drawing of a conclusion from this process of deduction as to which of the competitors will cross the line first, second or third.

Generally, races take place over a distance of 2000 meters. The riders begin slowly, jockeying for an advantageous position before entering into the second half of the course. This series of maneuvers may disappoint a little at first those spectators who have expected an extraordinary speed feeling. But then, as soon as the racers hear a bell sound telling that they have entered the last lap, the pitch of competition rises sharply and every rider begins to exert his full energy to his last spurt, dashing toward the finish line.

People seeing Keirin for the first time usually come expecting to see a mere bicycle race. However, they will be surprised to find out how these maneuvers are complicated. While it is difficult to understand all the details at first, there is no surpassing feeling than the thrill of watching your reasoning pay off, the race develops as you have predicted it would be, and the riders you have picked cross the finish line ahead of the pack.

By 1995, more than 1.31 billion people had been admitted to Keirin events. Those people wagered almost 36.1 trillion yen for this period of 47 years since its debut of Keirin. In 1995 alone, 22.2 million people paid admission to the 50 Keirin velodromes now in operation. Together with betting-ticket sales of some 1.61 trillion yen, these figures attest the facts that the Keirin has enjoyed by all sorts of people, supported by a wide variety of people and the Keirin has permeated into the public mind as a mass leisure sport.


There are 50 Keirin velodromes in operation across the nation, with 20 off-track betting locations.

Green Dome Maebashi, one of the 50 velodromes, is all-weather type (indoor) velodrome, which was built at Maebashi City in Gunma Prefecture in 1990. 'International Keirin 1990' was held in the Green Dome Maebashi. It took approximately 2 years to build this velodrome at an expense of 19 billion yen.

There are both general and special seats. The special seats, subject to an extra charge, are of an indoor type, air-conditioned and feature individual seats and tables.

Green Dome Maebashi Track length: 333 meters, Seating Capacity: 20,000.

The facilities have been upgraded progressively. Also, the betting system has been further computerized. With such features as Aurora-Vision at the outdoor Tachikawa Velodrome, Keirin is moving steadily into an age of high-technology.

50 Keirin Velodromes

Ito Onsen
Otsu Biwako
Kyoto Mukomachi

20 Off-Track Betting Locations

Satellite Kushiro
Hofu Station Service Center
Matsukaze-cho Service Center
Eda Service Center
Highway Service Center
Yasukata Service Center
Satellite Kita-Kyushu
Satellite Kurume
Satellite Takeo
Satellite Aizu
Satellite Nagasaki
Satellite USA
*Other temporary off-track locations are in operation.

Keirin Operating Structure

Pursuant to the provisions of the 'Bicycle Racing Law', the Japan Keirin Association was established in October 1957 to promote fairness and safety in the sport. Its major activities include registration of the racers, officials and bicycles, approval of inspection staff, mediation on behalf and training of competitors and guidance to local chapters of the Pro-cycle Racing Association.

The Japan Keirin Association also provides subsidies for a wide variety of fields, such as the promotion of machine industry and the advancement of public-interest and educational enterprises including physical culture promotion, social welfare, medical treatments, public health, cultural and educational activities, disaster relief and its recovery.

Only those persons who pass the examination of qualification to be conducted by the Japan Keirin Association can be duly registered as qualified Keirin competitors.


Keirin licenses are limited by the law of prefecture-level governments or municipalities designated by the Minister of Home Affairs. As of December 1995, there were 255 such sponsors - 9 prefecture-level bodies and 246 municipal governments.

Pro-cycle Racing Association

Each of the nation's eightregions has its own chapter of the Pro-cycle Racing Association, a body which is empowered by the Sponsor to oversee such matters as Keirin officials, bicycle inspection, program organization and supervision of competitors.

Rider Education and Ranking

Prospective Keirin competitors must attend the Japan Bicycle Racing School at Shuzenji, in the Izu area, where during this 10-month period of training and study they acquire the academic and practical skills they will need to compete successfully.

Applicants for entrance to the school outnumber successful candidates by about 12 to 1, and these applicants are chosen by an entrance examination which takes two forms, one a 'capability test' of practical skills over individual runs of 200 and 1,000 meters and the other an 'aptitude test' designed to allow the candidate lacking bicycle-racing experience to demonstrate whether he has those athletic abilities that will enable him to succeed as a Keirin racer.

Keirin has recently begun to draw on such sports as skating, baseball, track and field, volleyball and soccer for some of its finest new recruits.

All students are accommodated in school dormitories, and their education is based on the three pillars of academics, practical technique and special educational activities. The graduation test includes academic and practical examination as well as a personal evaluation; the candidate who qualifies in all these is on the way to becoming a Keirin rider.

Following their graduation, riders must be qualified for approval as a competitor by the Japan Keirin Association. Once this has been obtained, they are registered by the association as competitors and are now eligible to take part in Keirin events.

Every year 150 new riders are thus admitted, first to a four-month stint in the newcomer's league, following which they are assigned to a ranking, ranging from the first level of the 'A' grouping down to the second level of 'B', depending on their performance.

There were, as of December 1995, 4,398 registered Keirin riders, divided into, in descending order, three 'S', four 'A' and two 'B' groupings. Only 'S' level riders are eligible for 'special' Keirin events, while 'memorial' and 'S' class events are open to 'S' and 'A' class riders. 'Normal' events are the province of 'A' and 'B' class riders. Rankings are adjusted, based on a competitor's performance, every four months.

Vehicle Information Center and Ticket Varieties

Bets may be placed at the velodrome, at off-track locations, or by telephone. This service, which makes use of the Vehicle Information Center and ticketing on-line network, is available at 50 velodromes across the country.

All race results and data such as personal history of racers are stocked in the Vehicle Information Center.

There are six (uh, seven actually) types of betting tickets:

Win: Ticket which picks the number (uniform number) of the first-place finisher.

Place and Show: Ticket which picks the numbers (uniform numbers) of the first three finishers.

Consecutive: Conducted in "place and show" style for races 1-3, and in "win" style for race 4 and thereafter. Not sold simultaneously.

Box Perfecta: Ticket which picks the pre-selected group numbers (uniform color/box numbers) of the first-place and second-place finishers, in the order in which they finish.

Consecutive Win: Ticket which picks the numbers of the first-place and second-place finishers, in the order in which they finish.

Box Quinella: Ticket which picks the pre-selected group numbers (uniform color/box numbers) of the first-place and second-place finishers, and the finish order doesn't matter.

Consecutive Place and Show: Ticket which picks the numbers (uniform numbers) of either the first-place and second-place or the second-place and first-place finishers.

International Keirin

Keirin competitor Koichi Nakano won the first of ten straight World Championships in the pro sprint division of the 1977 World Championships in San Cristobal, Venezuela, and with the adoption of a Keirin event at the same championship in 1980, the sport began to attract attention from around the world. The following year, racers from overseas were invited to Japan for the first 'International Exchange Race'. This 1981 event was held as a demonstration only, and no bets were accepted, but wagers have been taken since the following year and 'International Keirin' was established as a regularly scheduled event.

This long series of races spans two to three months from Spring into early Summer, pitting riders from overseas who have performed well in the World Championship trials against top Japanese competitors. In 1995, seven riders from six foreign nations were invited to participate, and 'International Keirin' competition at six tracks drew more than 2.6 billion yen in bets placed.

Racers from Overseas for 'International Keirin' and International Exchange Race' (1981-1995)

Italy: G. Turrini (81), M. Capponcelli (81-84), O. Dazzan (82-85), B. Vicino (85), C. Golinelli (86-87, 91-92), V. Ceci (90, 92), F. Paris (94-95).
Australia: D. Clark (81, 87-89), G. Sutton (84, 90), M. Grenda (85-89), S. Pate (89-91), C. Hall (91), G. Neiwand (94-95), Darryn Hill (95).
France: Y. Cahard (82-84), P. Vernet (85-87, 89), P. Da Rocha (88-91), F. Colas (92), F. Magne (93-95).
Germany: J. Kristen (83), H. Hindelang (83, 85-91), D. Giebken (85-92), M. Hubner (91-92), J. Fiedler (94-95).
USA: G. Hatton (84-91), M. Whitehead (88), N. Vails (90-92), K. Carpenter (93-94).
Switzerland: H. Kanel (82-87), H. Schutz (83), R. Dill-Bundi (84-85), H. Ledermann (86).
Denmark: R. Olsen (83), K. Svensen (83), B. Dandanel (93).
Belgium: M. Vaarten (81-92), E. Schoefs (93-95).
U.K.: D. De Jose (93), S. Wallace (92), P. McHugh (93).
Liechtenstein: S. Hermann (84).
Netherlands: T. Smit (84-90).
Argentina: J. Curuchet (93), M. Alexandre (93).
Canada: C. Harnett (94-95), B. Huck (94).
*13 nations, 46 racers

Distribution of Revenue

Approximately 75% of money wagered on Keirin events is returned to the bettors as pay-outs. Winners' purse, employee salaries and other operating expenses are taken from the remaining 25%, and profits are channeled through the sponsors and the Japan Keirin Association into public benefit projects.

Funds accruing to sponsors are put into other municipal funds for use in such programs as publicly assisted housing, school or road construction, expansion of public hospital facilities, anti-pollution projects and other matters of benefit to the people of the area.

Grants from the Japan Keirin Association are put to use in support of the bicycle and other sectors of the machine industry, or as funds for a variety of public-interest projects.

Above text taken VERBATIM from the Official 1996 Japan Keirin Association brochure
Japan Keirin Association
Nihon Jitenshakaikan Bldg.
9-15, Akasaka, 1-Chome, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Japan
Phone: 03-3582-3311

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