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AFP
October 18, 2019

Japanese officials surprised by plans to relocate 2020 marathon

Sports

AFP
October 18, 2019

TOKYO: Japanese officials have been caught by surprise at an International Olympic Committee plan to move the Tokyo 2020 marathon over heat fears.

The IOC said Wednesday it is considering moving the event to Sapporo over concerns that sweltering summer temperatures in Tokyo could affect athletes. The northern city is more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) further north than the capital and would be five to six degrees cooler during the day.

But officials in both cities said they had not been consulted on the decision. “I was very surprised that the IOC specifically mentioned Sapporo but at the same time I feel honoured,” Sapporo mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto told reporters on Thursday.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said she would be seeking more information on the plan. “It is a very unexpected announcement. We know for a fact that many local (Tokyo) residents are very excited and making preparations for it,” Koike said.

“I wish to discuss what is the best from (all standpoints),” she said. Local media quoted Koike suggesting the IOC might consider moving events to a string of northern islands that Japan contests with Russia, in an apparent dig at the decision. “For Tokyo 2020, it came as a bit of surprise and I understand that,” John Coates, chairman of the IOC’s Coordination Commission, said.

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