Asia Minute: Office Chair Racing Sweeps into Taiwan

Apr 25, 2016

Credit Rikki's Refuge / Flickr

A number of Japanese sports and games are popular in Hawai‘i. There was a time when Hawaiian-born sumo wrestlers dominated the top ranks of the sport.  And other games from Hanafuda to Sudoku have caught on in the islands. But one particular sport that’s been developed in Japan hasn’t yet made it to Hawai‘i---although it’s spreading across Asia.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

There are contests in Germany and California…but you can make an argument that it’s the Japanese who have pushed the sport of office chair racing to its highest levels.  The “Office Chair Grand Prix” takes place across a dozen cities in Japan….and this week, it’s stretched to Taiwan’s capital city…organized in part by Taipei’s Tourism Bureau.

If your work is office-bound, you may have thought about something like this at some point.  You sit in an wheeled office chair and give a good push with your feet and maybe flash just for a second with a question—“Hmm--I wonder how fast I could go on this thing?”

On Sunday in Taiwan the winning contestant in the singles event covered a little more than thirty yards in six seconds.  A few basics of the sport: number one, everyone goes backwards---because that’s how you push yourself in a chair with wheels, right?  Also, everyone wears helmets—many wear elbow protectors, knee pads and other protection….because office chairs tend to fall apart in the heat of competition.

There’s a group event—a relay race involving teams of three on a course of roughly 200 yards: as many rounds as you can make it in two hours.  This Sunday in Taiwan—the winning team completed 160 laps…it was one of two relay teams that had come in from Japan.