Olympics

IOC agrees to hold Olympic marathon, race walk on final 4 days of Tokyo Games

Kyodo

The International Olympic Committee agreed Wednesday the 2020 Olympic marathon and race walk events, which have been relocated from Tokyo to Sapporo, will take place over the last four days of the July 24 to Aug. 9 games, according to the organizers.

The IOC’s executive board confirmed the men’s marathon will start at 7 a.m. on the final day of the games, while the women’s race will start at the same time a day earlier.

The board also confirmed the marathon and race walk courses will start and finish at Sapporo’s Odori Park, as agreed last month in a meeting of the games’ organizing committee and local municipalities.

But the body is yet to decide the specific route of the marathon races.

The organizers’ proposed marathon route will see runners take two laps of a roughly 20-km course around the city’s center. The route will pass local landmarks such as the Sapporo TV Tower, Sapporo Station and the Sapporo Campus of Hokkaido University.

However, world athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, wants the marathon to cover a more compact circuit six times.

The race walking route makes a round trip up and down the boulevard between Odori Park and the station.

The organizers said tickets will not be sold for the men’s or women’s marathon, as there will be no fixed seating along the course.

The IOC’s decision to shift the Olympic marathon and race-walking events to Sapporo, due to concerns over Tokyo’s heat, was reluctantly accepted by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike in early November.

With the men’s marathon to be held on the final day of the games, athletes will have to travel over 800 km back to Tokyo after the race in order to attend the closing ceremony in Japan’s capital. The task is further complicated by the time required for doping tests and other procedures.

Tokyo Games organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori had said Nov. 7 that the men’s marathon schedule would “change greatly” as it would be “impossible” to hold the event in Sapporo on the same day as the closing ceremony in Tokyo.

But IOC Coordination Commission Chairman John Coates said on Nov. 13 the IOC wanted to keep the men’s marathon on the final day, saying athletes would have to be flown to Tokyo in order to receive their medals at the closing ceremony, in line with recent Olympic tradition.

The IOC, meanwhile, said it could seek nominations of new member candidates on Dec. 5, the final day of the executive board meeting. The Japanese Olympic Committee is eager for JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita to become the second IOC member from Japan and is pushing his candidacy.