2020 Olympic Marathon to Be Moved 500 Miles North of Tokyo Amid Extreme Temperature Concerns

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday that the marathon and race-walking events for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be moved due to concerns about extreme temperatures.

"We have been working closely with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 on the potential weather conditions at next year's Olympic Games and will continue to work with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 on the proposal to move the road events to Sapporo," said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.

Sapporo, which is located on the island of Hokkaido, is roughly 500 miles north of Tokyo. "In Sapporo, temperatures during the Games period are as much as five to six degrees centigrade cooler during the day than in Tokyo," the IOC said in a statement.

Both of the events are set to take place between July 31 and August 9. During these weeks, temperatures in Tokyo are likely to exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). According to the IOC, the temperatures in Sapporo during this time will be around 75 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (24-25 degrees Celsius).

The plan to move the events comes after the world championship marathons in Doha, Qatar. This event was moved to begin at midnight, but temperatures were still hovered around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), causing 40 out of 68 women to drop out of the race. The extreme heat at the event also caused the slowest winning time ever for a women's world championship marathon at 2:32:43.

In the past, Japan has dealt with extreme temperatures. According to Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 57 people died this year during the week of July 29 to August 4 due to consistent temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

The relocation of these two events could also affect Tokyo's financial expenditures for the Olympics. When Tokyo won the Olympic bid in 2013, they reported a projected cost of $7 billion or 829 billion yen. Since then, the budget has risen to $12.5 billion (1.35 trillion yen), according to Nikkei Asian Review. The statement released by the IOC did not mention the potential financial consequences of the event relocation, but they are planned to be discussed in future meeting from October 30 to November 1, the committee told Newsweek via email.

The plan to move the events are aimed at giving the Olympic athletes the best possible conditions to compete in, the IOC said.

"Athletes' health and well-being are always at the heart of our concerns," IOC President Thomas Bach said in the statement. "The Olympic Games are the platform where athletes can give 'once-in-a-lifetime' performances, and these measures ensure they have the conditions to give their best."

Other changes being made for the 2020 games due to weather include scheduling changes for rugby and cycling events. Rugby games set for the morning will be scheduled to finish before 12 p.m. and all mountain bike events will have start times delayed to 3 p.m. Additionally, races of distances at least 5,000m will occur in the evening rather than morning sessions at the 2020 games. Marathon and race walk events will also be given earlier start times.

2020 Olympic Games
2020 Olympic marathon moved from Tokyo amid extreme heat concerns Carl Court/Getty
2020 Olympic Marathon to Be Moved 500 Miles North of Tokyo Amid Extreme Temperature Concerns | Sports