Tokyo surrenders to IOC in squabble over 2020 Olympic marathon course

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori, shown at an event on July 24, said Friday his organization had been in contact with officials in Sapporo about relocating the Games' marathon and race walking events.
(Christopher Jue / Getty Images )

Tokyo officials have given up their fight against the International Olympic Committee, agreeing to a plan that will relocate the marathon and race walking events for the 2020 Summer Games.

The city’s governor had opposed the change but relented Friday after meeting with visiting IOC executives.

“I considered putting up more of a fight but the chances of winning were slim,” Gov. Yuriko Koike was quoted as saying in the Japan Times.

Concerned about sweltering weather in Tokyo during the summer, the IOC earlier this month announced its intention to shift the marathon and race walking events 500 miles north to Sapporo, where temperatures should be significantly cooler. The move came shortly after the world track championships in Doha, Qatar, where nearly a third of the women’s marathon field quit before the finish in searing heat.


Still, Tokyo officials expressed surprise at the IOC’s decision and insisted fans in their city would be angry about losing the events.

The new logo for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris was meant to evoke French national icon Marianne. It has sparked a voluble and often hilarious debate.

On Friday, Olympic leaders reiterated that they have the authority to make such changes. They said local organizers will not bear any additional costs for preparing new venues.

“We can fully understand the concerns and disappointment of Tokyoites, who are so enthusiastic and involved in these Olympic Games,” said John Coates, an IOC executive.


The head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said he had already been in contact with government officials in Sapporo.

“We appreciate the fans’ enthusiasm and will come together as one team and make our best efforts to ensure the success of the Games,” Yoshiro Mori said.