Tokyo, Oct. 31 (Jiji Press)–The Tokyo metropolitan government is expected to accept the change of the venue for the men’s and women’s marathon and race walk events in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics from the Japanese capital to Sapporo in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, it was learned Thursday.
The metropolitan government will unlikely be asked to shoulder additional costs stemming from the possible venue change, informed sources said.
A top-level meeting will be held in Tokyo on Friday among the metropolitan government, the Japanese government, the organizing committee for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and the International Olympic Committee. John Coates, chairman of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the games, said on Thursday night he is sure that an accord will be made at the four-way talks.
After a number of athletes dropped out of the marathon and race walk events at this year’s World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, due to the sweltering heat there, the IOC made an abrupt announcement on Oct. 16 of the change of the venue for the Olympic marathon and race walk to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, due to its concern over the powerful heat wave in Tokyo in summer.
IOC President Thomas Bach revealed an agreement with the organizing committee on the matter on Oct. 17. At a meeting with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Friday last week, Coates confirmed that a decision to alter the venue has been taken.
At the outset of a Coordination Commission meeting in Tokyo that started Wednesday, Coates proposed holding the four-way meeting on Friday, while Koike reiterated that Tokyo should host the marathon and race walk events.
In Sapporo, the Hokkaido Marathon event is held every summer, with Odori Park in the heart of the city used as the start and finish lines.
If Sapporo is officially named to host the Olympic marathons, the course of the Hokkaido Marathon will be considered as a candidate route for the events in the 2020 Games, the sources said.
A proposal made by Bach for using the Sapporo Dome as the starting and finishing points seems difficult because the idea would require refurbishment of the stadium, according to the sources.
On top of setting the course, the change of the Olympic marathon and race walk venue would involve a host of challenges, such as security, the transportation of and accommodations for athletes and officials concerned, and recruiting volunteers, with only about nine months to go until the Olympic Games, the sources said.