Tokyo: After a bitter dispute with the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo’s governor said on Friday she had reluctantly accepted organisers’ decision to switch next year’s Olympic marathons to the cooler northern city of Sapporo to avoid the capital’s stifling summer heat.
Governer Yuriko Koike had resisted the IOC’s decision to move the marathons and race walks, arguing that adequate preparations had been made, at considerable cost, to counter the heat and that a last-minute change of plans was unfair to the host city and on spectators who had bought tickets in a fiercely competitive lottery.
But on Friday she acknowledged she could not stand in the way of the shift.
“I remain unchanged in the belief that the marathon and competitive walking events should take place in Tokyo. But as the host city, Tokyo must consider the importance of creating a framework for the Games to succeed,” Koike said. “So although I do not agree with the IOC decision, I will not interfere with the choice made by the authority vested with the right to deliver the final word.”
Temperatures in Tokyo in July and August, when the Games will be held, regularly exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit, with high humidity adding to the health risks for athletes. Last month, the IOC abruptly decided to shift the races 500 miles north to Sapporo, where daytime temperatures are often about 10 degrees cooler.
The IOC said it took the decision after President Thomas Bach saw television scenes of marathon runners collapsing in extreme heat at the world track and field championships last month in Doha.