From Inside the Games

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has expressed surprise at the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) “abrupt” announcement that the marathon and race walk events for next year’s Olympic Games would be moved from the Japanese capital to Sapporo.

The IOC revealed the decision to relocate the races to Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan and located 800 kilometres north of Tokyo, meaning significantly lower temperatures for the athletes during the Olympic Games as a reaction to extreme heat concerns.

IOC President Thomas Bach cited athlete welfare as the reason behind the move but Koike’s surprise reaction suggested a disconnect between the IOC and the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games host city.

“The IOC abruptly announced a proposal to review plans for the Olympic marathon and race walking events,” Koike told Japanese agency Kyodo News.

“Taking this path raises various issues.

“Of course, the athletes-first approach is extremely important.

“And, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, in partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, has taken a variety of approaches to formulating steps and implementing measures to combat heat.

“The marathon and race walking courses and start times were determined by the host city, Tokyo, and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee in consultation with the IOC, International Federations, and related groups.

“Therefore, we are very surprised to learn of this sudden change in direction.”

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