Tokyo Olympics marathons moved 800 km to Sapporo for cooler climate


The Olympic marathon and race walking events during Tokyo 2020 will be
moved to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido from the capital due
to worries about heat.
Organisers seem eager to avoid a repeat of troubling scenes at the
recent World Athletics Championships in Doha, where almost half the
field failed to complete the women’s marathon because of sweltering
heat and humidity.
“Athletes’ health and well-being are always at the heart of our
concerns,” said Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic
Committee. “The Olympic Games are the platform where athletes can give
once-in-a-lifetime performances, and these measures ensure they have
the conditions to give their best.“
Organisers had been looking for ways to protect athletes and
spectators from Tokyo’s sweltering temperatures expected during the
summer Olympics and Paralympic Games next year.
Tokyo held a test marathon in September, featuring tents equipped with
mist machines for spectators. Officials had also been planning to hold
longer-distance races during cooler hours, but questions had persisted
over whether such steps were enough.
Suffocating humidity and high temperatures in Doha proved gruelling
despite a midnight start. Nearly a third of the 70 starters failed to
reach the finish line, fuelling debate over athletes’ welfare.
Temperatures in Tokyo during July and August, when the city hosts the
Olympic and Paralympic Games, commonly exceed 30C, with high humidity
adding to the discomfort.
Temperatures in Sapporo, host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, during the
period are as much as 5C-6C cooler during the day than in Tokyo. The
change in location will be discussed with other parties, including
Tokyo and broadcasters.

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