The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Games is mulling a course for the Olympic marathon in Sapporo that loops around the center of the city, it has been learned.
With security and cost reduction in mind, a course that loops around the center of the city twice, starting and finishing at Odori Park, is looking most likely, according to several sources linked to the Games.
World Athletics — the new name of the International Association of Athletics Federations — is said to be supportive of the plan.
The organizing committee is set to determine the course in consultation with Olympic Broadcasting Services, the Sapporo city government and the Hokkaido prefectural government, among others.
According to the sources, the organizing committee has studied several options including one based on the course of the Hokkaido Marathon, an annual summer event that starts and finishes in Odori Park.
The Hokkaido Marathon includes a 13-kilometer circuit along Shinkawa-dori avenue that extends northwest from Odori Park.
As the suggested Olympic circuit loops around the center of the city, it is expected to largely reduce the costs required for such services as roadside security and the installation of competition and broadcasting equipment.
An Olympic marathon with a looped circuit was introduced for the first time at the 2012 London Games and was also used at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The marathon course initially planned for the 2020 Tokyo Games that was to start and finish at the new National Stadium in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, had no looped segments.
The organizing committee hopes to win approval for the start and finish locations of the Sapporo marathon at an IOC board meeting in early December and reach a decision on the course route as swiftly as possible.
Hashimoto calls for cooperation
Following the decision to hold the marathon and race walk events of the 2020 Tokyo Games in Sapporo, Seiko Hashimoto, the minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, met Tuesday with Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki and Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto, and vowed to strengthen cooperation.
It was the first time the three had held talks since the decision to relocate the events to Sapporo had been finalized.
“We have to organize a Sapporo event that makes athletes want to win gold there,” Hashimoto stressed.
Hashimoto said an early decision on the event schedule and course would reassure participants, and thus she called for the cooperation of relevant organizations.
“Taking into account the thoughts of those who worked on the Tokyo events, I’d like to press on with the spirit of ‘One team, all Japan,’” Suzuki said.
“Despite having little time to prepare, we need to cooperate fully to ensure the events are a success,” Akimoto added.
In October, the International Olympic Committee proposed relocating the Olympic marathon and race walk events from Tokyo to Sapporo. The move was officially finalized on Nov. 1 during a top-level meeting between the IOC, the national government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the organizing committee.