Doubling Down on Sapporo Olympic Marathon

(ATR) No issues with heat for the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Big problem for 2020.

(ATR) Both men’s and women’s marathons could be held on the on the same day in the 2020 Olympics.

The doubling up of the two road races is one of the options being considered as the likelihood grows that the events will be shifted from Tokyo to Sapporo in northern Japan. The proposal comes from the IAAF which is responsible for staging the marathon as part of the athletics program.

The change from Tokyo to Sapporo comes on order from the IOC which is concerned about the safety of athletes running in the summer heat of the Japanese capital. While the start time of the marathons ha been dialed back to 0600, an hour after sunrise, the IOC is still worried about the risk to runners.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains opposed to the move. She objects to the sudden change after six years of preparation so far. And Koike says she and others with responsibility for the 2020 Games were not consulted prior to the IOC taking action.

The governor insists that a range of measures are being taken to insure the safety of the event. She says the start time could be pushed back further to 0300. But running the marathon in the dark of night is difficult for TV coverage and presents logistical and personnel challenges as well.

Koike will have the chance to publicly air her opposition to the change in venue during a meeting of the Four Party groupon Friday in Tokyo. Joining her at the table will be Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori. Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto and IOC coordination commission chair John Coates.

Coates says the IOC Executive Board has made its decision about the marathon. The EB has the ultimate power to approve or reject venues for the Olympics.

Coates is in Tokyo to lead the latest meeting of the IOC cocomm. The three day meeting is over on Nov. 1.

The federation proposals for the timingof the marathon in Sapporo include two options. One schedule would stage both races on August 9, the final day of the Olympics. The men’s event is already scheduled on that date. August 2 is the current date scheduled for the women in Tokyo.

The other option would stage the races, along with three race walking events, on dates prior to the start of the athletics schedule in Tokyo August 1. Those dates are July 27-29 or July 28-30.

None of this was a problem in 1964 when the last Olympic marathon was held in Tokyo during October. The marathon was run Oct. 21.

While the Olympics marathon may not take place as planned in Tokyo, International Paralympics President Andrew Parsons confirms the road races for the Tokyo Paralympics will remain in Tokyo. Parsons confirmed the IPC position in a meeting Thursday in Tokyo with Tokyo 2020’s Yoshiro Mori.

The events will take place on Sept. 6, the final day of the Paralympics. Men’s and women’s events in five different classes will use the same route proposed for the Olympics. Start times for the races have been set for 0630 to counter heat worries.

Reported by Ed Hula.