Tokyo irked by IOC’s decision to move marathon to Sapporo

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Tokyo, Oct 29 (IANS) The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to shift the marathon event of the 2020 Olympics away from host city Tokyo has not gone down well with the city authorities. In a press conference on Tuesday, assembly members who belong to a party closely affiliated to Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike highlighted the growing sense of anger within the city against the decision.

The IOC had on October 16 announced plans to move the marathon from Tokyo to the city of Sapporo over 800km south of the Japanese capital so as to counter the heat that the athletes are expected to face at that time of the year. The announcement came in the wake of many runners unable to complete the marathon in Doha during the IAAF World Athletics Championships due to the punishing heat.

Hiroshi Yamada and Taro Shirato in a press conference highlighted, among other things, the fact that the IOC had awarded Tokyo the rights to host the Olympics while being fully aware of the weather conditions.

“It’s been six years since the decision was made to stage these events in Tokyo but this decision was made immediately prior to the Games,” said Shirato.

“I have a strong sense of anger and frustration. People do not understand the amount of preparation put in by the athletes, the federations, the city government and the local communit.”

Yamada and Shirato said that the city had already spent about $275 million on special heat-blocking paving along the marathon course as well as billions of Yen on test events and other preparations.

“This isn’t just a decision for Tokyo and Sapporo, there will be very few cities that can host the Summer Olympic Games,” said Shirato, pointing out that France, which is set to host the Games in 2024, had experienced a heat wave this year with temperatures touching 40 degrees.

–IANS

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