Japanese-backed team out of Tour of Beijing amid tension

PARIS (Reuters) - Argos-Shimano, a team with a Japanese co-sponsor and rider, withdrew from cycling's Tour of Beijing on Wednesday amid tensions between Japan and China over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

"Global Cycling Promotion and the local organising committee of the Tour of Beijing discussed with Team Argos-Shimano the option of not participating in the Tour of Beijing," the event's organisers said in a statement.

"Due to the current circumstances, the team accepted to withdraw from the race."

The Tour of Beijing would be held as scheduled from October 9-13, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said.

"At this time, the current situation is not affecting the participation of any of the 18 World Tour teams and all are expected to be on the start line in Beijing on the 9th of October," UCI's Global Cycling Promotion director Alain Rumpf said.

"Of course the local organising committee and Global Cycling Promotion are closely following the evolution of the situation."

Earlier this month, Japanese cycling team Aisan were kicked out of the Tour of China.

Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply this month after Japan bought the isolated East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, from their private owner, sparking protests across China.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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