The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering proposing that the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walking events start at 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. in an attempt to prevent them from being moved to Sapporo, officials said Thursday.
Amid increasing worry about the impact of the expected extreme heat in Tokyo during the Summer Games, the start times had already been moved up to 6 a.m.
But the International Olympic Committee abruptly announced a plan last week to move all the road athletics events to Sapporo.
The IOC’s plan emerged weeks after many competitors dropped out of marathon and race walking events at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, due to sweltering conditions, despite the races starting at midnight.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has said the proposal to move the events came out of the blue and expressed her irritation that the metropolitan government was left out of the loop when it was discussed between the IOC, the International Association of Athletics Federations and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Distance running is very popular in Japan and the decision to move the races was met with public outcry due to spectators having made arrangements such as booking hotels along the course route around the capital.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government had also made significant efforts to hold the race in Tokyo, including surfacing roads along the route with a special reflective material as a heat abatement measure.
The IOC’s proposal will be discussed when its Coordination Commission holds a meeting in Tokyo from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.
The metropolitan government will decide whether to present its alternative proposal at the three-day meeting, which will be attended by Koike, who has said Tokyo’s desire to hold the road athletics events has not changed.