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Tokyo 2020 marathon, race walks rescheduled following Sapporo move

CHOFU, JAPAN - JUNE 29: Joseph Choong of Great Britain celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold in the men's laser run on day three of the UIPM World Cup, Modern Pentathlon test event for the Tokyo 2020, at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza on June 29, 2019 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

The women’s marathon and all race walking events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been rescheduled following their move from Tokyo to Sapporo.

All marathon and race walk events will be held on four consecutive days, from August 6 to 9. The women’s marathon was initially scheduled for August 2. The men’s marathon will remain on the final day of the Games, as per tradition and as originally scheduled.

According to the IOC, the schedule change will ease the burden on National Olympic Committees and athletes travelling to Sapporo. Tokyo 2020 chief executive officer Toshiro Muto said: “There are some countries with the same person (coaches and officials) taking charge of both marathon and race-walking, or the same person taking charge of both male and female events.

“They (would) have to go back and forth (if marathon and race-walking are held in separate schedule)… and it produces extra costs.

“So there was a request to make the schedule as consecutive as possible.”

The change follows a decision made in October by the IOC to move the events from Tokyo to Sapporo, to avoid the summer heat in the more southern capital city. Tokyo temperatures in July and August regularly exceed 30 degrees Celsius, with high humidity.

Referring to that decision, IOC executive-director Christophe Dubi, said: “Of course, it was a very fast process and we hear the views about the way it was done, but there was consultation and the logical result was to move to conditions that allow athletes to perform at their best.”

When asked if such last-minute changes had affected the credibility of the IOC, Dubi said: “I think credibility is also built on consistency. Safety and security of the athletes comes first. This is how to build credibility.”

He said World Athletics, the global governing body for athletics, would consider the expected weather conditions prohibitive for top competitions. WA had its own issues with hot weather this year, when several athletes were forced to withdraw from the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Qatar. Dubi said: “One thing that we learned this summer… is what the athletics family called the red or black flag conditions. Creating better conditions for athletes. No doubt about that and this is how credibility is built over time.”

The IOC would not leave Olympics organisers carrying the cost of such changes, he added: “If there are new requirements or any decision that affects the organisation then the IOC will look favourably to contribute financially. We will not only discuss about logistics but we will also decide about the parts the IOC will cover in terms of cost. What matters for us is to be really good partners.”