Road events have moved 800km north of Olympic host city Tokyo due to heat concerns

Details of the Sapporo Olympic marathon course have been published following the decision to move the road events 800km north of the host city Tokyo due to heat concerns.

In Sapporo, which was the host city of the 1972 Winter Olympics, temperatures during the Games period are set to be as much as 5-6C cooler during the day than in Tokyo, it is claimed.

The new course features one loop of roughly half-marathon length and a second smaller loop of approximately 10km that will be run twice.

Sapporo Odori Park will be the starting and finishing point for both the marathon and race walk events, with marathoners first running two laps within the park against a backdrop of the Sapporo TV Tower. They will then head south along Sapporo Ekimae-dori Avenue towards the busy station area and cross the Toyohira River before returning north towards Hokkaido University and on to the finish line.

“This course has been designed with athletes’ wellbeing in mind and it will deliver maximum efficiency to the National Olympic Committees and related bodies, who will be looking after the athletes, as well as leave a standing legacy course for any future annual marathon and road events in the city so recreational walkers and runners can follow the footsteps of their heroes,” said the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The race walk courses, which were approved earlier this month, feature 1km and 2km loops for the 20km and 50km distances respectively, along Sapporo Ekimae-dori Avenue.

“Developing courses for the Olympic marathon and race walk events is always an exciting challenge to achieve a balance of athlete welfare, showcasing the city, ensuring technical and broadcast requirements are met and providing a great backdrop for spectators to enjoy the Olympic experience,” said World Athletics (IAAF) technical delegate and council member Sylvia Barlag.

“We have achieved this in Sapporo and want to thank all the stakeholders and, in particular, our athletes, who have come together in a short space of time to help create these courses. We now look forward to the world’s greatest marathon runners and race walkers battling for Olympic gold on the streets of Sapporo.”

The Olympic road events are set to take place on consecutive days between August 6-9, with the women’s marathon having moved from August 2 to August 8 and the men’s marathon taking place on August 9, the last day of the Games.

Britain’s Callum Hawkins will be among those contesting the men’s event, with the Scottish record-holder having this week received pre-selection.

His fellow British marathoner Steph Twell had been among those initially eyeing a 10,000m and marathon double in Tokyo (interview here) but she will be forced to focus on just one event, with the women’s 10,000m final also scheduled for Saturday August 8.

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