2020 Marathon, Race Walk May Be Moved To Sapporo

2020 marathon, race walk may be moved to Sapporo

With less than 10 months to go before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, the International Olympic Committee says it is considering moving the marathon and race walking events to the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. The IOC wants to take advantage of the cooler summer weather there.

It points out the average daytime temperatures in July and August can be 5 to 6 degrees cooler in Sapporo, which is some 800 kilometers north of Tokyo.

IOC officials intend to discuss the issue with the Tokyo metropolitan government and organizers of the summer games in meetings starting October 30.

IOC President Thomas Bach says athletes' health and well-being are of utmost concern.

He says the Olympic Games are the platform where athletes can give a "once in a lifetime" performance, and that holding the events in cooler conditions will allow them to give their best.

The announcement comes just days after the World Athletics Championships, held in Qatar, was engulfed in controversy after events went ahead in high temperatures only for athletes to drop out.

About 40 percent of competitors in the women's marathon and 50-kilometer race walk failed to make the finish line due to the extreme heat.

The organizer came under fierce criticism. Athletes complained that their welfare was not sufficiently considered.

One marathon runner said the high-ranked officials who made the decision to green-light the race must have been sleeping somewhere cool.

It is extremely unusual for the IOC to propose changes to an event venue.

Sources related to the Tokyo Games believe the IOC and the International Association of Athletics Federations decided to rethink having the marathon and race walking events in Tokyo after seeing what happened in Qatar.

However, some Japanese officials are voicing concern over whether Sapporo will be able to arrange to host the events in the short time available.