The Tokyo Olympics women’s marathon to be held Saturday morning in Sapporo has been moved forward by one hour to 6 a.m. due to heat concerns, organizers said Friday.
The decision came after high temperatures and humidity made for grueling race walk events over the past two days, with some athletes pulling out or collapsing midrace.
“Athletes’ health and well-being are the organizers’ top priorities,” the games organizing committee said. “All team officials will be asked to inform their athletes of the conditions so they are able to pace themselves during the race.”
The schedule change was made on the advice of World Athletics’ medical team, the committee said.
No such decision has been announced for the men’s marathon scheduled to start 7 a.m. Sunday.
Due to concerns over Tokyo’s intense heat, organizers decided in 2019 to move the marathon and race walk events to Sapporo, located about 830 kilometers to the north and on average 5 degrees Celsius cooler in the summer months.
But temperatures still rose above 30 degrees during the men’s 20-km race walk on Thursday and the men’s 50km and women’s 20km on Friday, with the athletes frantically trying to cool off by pouring water over their bodies and hanging ice packs around their necks.
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