Tokyo Governor Challenges Olympic Marathon Move

Tokyo Governor challenges Olympic marathon move

The governor of Tokyo says she hopes to keep the 2020 Olympic marathon and race walking events in the capital, challenging the plan of the International Olympic Committee to move them to the northern city of Sapporo.

Yuriko Koike was speaking at an IOC meeting that kicked off in Tokyo on Wednesday. Among the other attendees were IOC Coordination Commission Chairman John Coates, Tokyo Games organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori, and Minister for Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Seiko Hashimoto.

At the top of the agenda was the IOC proposal to move the events to Sapporo, which has cooler temperatures than Tokyo.

Coates said the IOC executive board decided on the venue change plan at a meeting on October 16.

He added that he does not want to leave the meeting without the understanding of the people of Tokyo over why the IOC took the action.

Tokyo Governor Koike said she understands the importance of putting "athletes first."

She said that is why she cannot make light of athletes who are working to adjust to the conditions in Tokyo, and others involved in the preparation for the Tokyo Games.

She said Tokyo wants a thorough, convincing explanation from the IOC and an in-depth discussion on the matter.

Koike again urged marathon and race walking events to be held in the capital. She said that it is impossible to make the Olympic Games a success without mutual trust.

During the 3-day IOC meeting, participants are expected to also discuss who would pay the bill for moving the events to Sapporo if they were to be held there.

Koike later told reporters that Tokyo has not accepted the IOC "decision." She also ruled out using Tokyo taxpayers' money for the venue change.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will start in July, less than nine months away.