Tokyo organisers propose 3:00 am start, IOC, an 800km move north

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Between the Tokyo 2020 organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), there appears to be a bit of a conundrum brewing. They better settle this issue soon.

The organisers want the marathon race to start at 3:00 am. For any athlete who goes to Asia from Europe, North America or Africa to acclimatise to the time zone and possibly (but not guaranteed) heat, 3:00 am is going to be a problem. Competitors will need to be up at midnight.

That’s if the race stays in Tokyo.

The IOC wants to move the marathon 800-kilometres north to Sapporo, where the temperatures are a little cooler – but not cool. This could turn out to be difficult, logistically speaking.

There has been little to no discussion about past global championships, which have been warm – for Tokyo to be as hot as Doha (38-40C) records would be set – Doha’s temperatures were typical. Forecasting weather 10 months out is guesswork at best.

From Inside the Games

The IOC announced last week the Olympic marathons and race walking events would be relocated to Sapporo, which is 800 kilometres north of Tokyo, because of heat concerns.

Temperatures in Sapporo – the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture in Japan – are as much as five to six degrees centigrade cooler during the day during the time of the Games than in Tokyo.

IOC President Thomas Bach cited athlete welfare as the reason behind the move, which was met with surprise within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was critical of the “abrupt” decision and claimed the Metropolitan Government had not been included in the discussions between the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

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