It was on Thursday, Tokyo Olympics 2020 Sapporo marathon course has been unveiled by organizers for both men’s and women’s competition. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) came up with the decision to move the marathon event at Sapporo following the rising heat concerns in the capital city of Japan that will host the event from July 24 to August 9, 2020. The venue for both the Marathon course will commence and finish at the new venue of Sapporo Odori Park, located in the center of Sapporo. The IOC, World Athletics, Tokyo 2020 and local authorities proposed the new design of the Sapporo marathon course and finalization of the decision.
The race before heading onto the streets for a three-loop course will start with two laps. The first loop course will be a half marathon run, followed by two shorter loops of roughly 10 km each. Throughout the Sapporo Marathon course, competitors will pass through the landmark points of the Sapporo city, covering Sapporo TV Tower, Susukino entertainment district, Toyohira River, Nakajima Park, Hokkaido University Campus, one of Japan’s formal imperial universities.
World Athletics Technical delegate and Councilmember Sylvia Barlag commented on this move stating “developing courses for the Olympic marathon and race walk events is an exciting challenge to achieve a balance of athlete welfare, showcasing the city, ensuring technical and broadcast requirements are met and also providing a great backdrop for spectators to enjoy the Olympic experience. We thank all the stakeholders and, in particular, our athletes, who have come together in a short space of time to help create the marathon course. We now look forward to the world’s greatest marathon runners and race walkers battling for Olympic gold on the streets of Sapporo”.
Toshiro Muto, CEO of 2020 Tokyo Olympics also welcomed the move stating “The course opening laps in Sapporo Odori Park will set the Sapporo cityscape as a fitting backdrop for the runners, sharing its charms with fans around the world. In addition to discussions with World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), I thank the city of Sapporo and Hokkaido prefecture for their invaluable support. We will continue to work closely with all parties concerned to ensure the marathons and race walks in Sapporo are a big success”.
Deputy executive director of the Olympic organizing committee, Yasuo Mori, too admitted that setting up a new marathon course is not an easy task. But he is also more optimistic about the change stating “good, compact, course passing through some of the picturesque sites in the northern city of Tokyo.
The Japan Association of Athletics federation’s marathon development leader and former Olympic marathoner, Toshiko Seko said in a recent statement “ the participating runners will now be able to prepare themselves genuinely for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Now we are ready with the official course, in which one lap will be for the first lap and the two laps for the second lap. The course design will give the roadside spectators more opportunity to cheer and enjoy the run. He also said, “ the cheer and support, will certainly boost athletes confidence and thus will be a great marathon course”.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, however, criticized the move calling the decision “unprecedented”. Also, the Japan Association of Athletics federation regretted the change of course, while many athletes claimed that the new route will have stress on their training. IOC replied, stating the route will benefit the athletes and safeguard them from the extreme temperatures in the capital, occurring during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.