Betting on bike racing: Keirin culture in Japan

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From the photographer: Keirin is a form of cycle racing developed in Japan around 1948 for gambling purposes and has since become extremely popular. It is one of only four sports that patrons are allowed to bet on. In 1957 the Japanese Keirin Association was founded establishing a uniform system for the sport.

Today riders must complete study at the Japan Keirin School. For riders accepted to the school, they take on an extremely strict, 15-hour, six day-a-week training schedule, before being eligible to graduate as approved professional Keirin riders able to compete in Japan’s professional Keirin league. There are over 3,000 registered riders in Japan, and salaries for top riders can bring in as much as $2 million U.S., with average riders bringing about $100,000.

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