IOC, World Athletics and Tokyo 2020 agree on revised event schedule and a legacy-focused 20 km-loop course for the first half of marathon in Sapporo Odori Park
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have announced that Sapporo Odori Park in Hokkaido was approved by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for marathon and race walk events at an IOC Executive Board meeting held today in Lausanne, Switzerland. This followed confirmation from World Athletics.
Sapporo Odori Park has been used in the past as a venue for the Hokkaido Marathon, giving the local authorities a lot of experience in operating major events in this area, and is a popular spot for tourists and local residents, hosting a number of different events throughout the year. It is a large open space of around 7.8 hectares in the centre of Sapporo City featuring beautiful lawns, flower beds and trees.
The park was also chosen as its layout allows both marathon and race walk events to be held at the same venue, while the topography of the surrounding area allows for the creation of exciting competition courses. At Games-Time, temporary facilities will be constructed at the park to support operations.
The IOC, World Athletics and Tokyo 2020 also agreed on 1 and 2 km-loops for race walk and a 20 km-loop course for the first stage of the marathon, leaving as a legacy a half marathon course which can host a future annual event. From the busy station area with streets lined with commercial buildings, the course will pass iconic local sights such as Hokkaido University, helping to transmit the rich charm of the city to the world. World Athletics and Tokyo 2020 will continue their discussions on the second half of the course and will conduct a site inspection in order to reach a mutual decision on overall operations by mid-December.
Competition schedules have also been revamped to facilitate the support of NOC officials and coaches to the athletes, as Sapporo is located 800 km to the North of Tokyo. Marathon and race walk events are now scheduled to be held on four consecutive days, from 6 to 9 August. The revised schedule is as follows:
Men's 20k race walk: 6 August / 4:30 p.m.
Men's 50k race walk: 7 August / 5:30 a.m.
Women's 20k race walk: 7 August / 4:30 p.m.
Women's marathon: 8 August / 7:00 a.m.
Men's marathon: 9 August / 7:00 a.m.
Chair of the IOC's Athletes' Commission, Kirsty Coventry, said, "Athletes' health and well-being are always at the heart of our concerns and the decision taken to move the marathon and race walk events to Sapporo shows how seriously we take such concerns. We also want the Olympic Games to be the platform where athletes can give ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ performances, and this new venue ensures that they will have the conditions to give of their best. I would like to thank the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the local authorities, and World Athletics for confirming this new venue so quickly in order to give the athletes as much preparation time as possible. I look forward to seeing the marathon and race walk athletes compete in Sapporo in front of a passionate crowd next August."
Tokyo 2020 CEO Muto Toshiro commented: "We appreciate that through the support of so many people, Sapporo Odori Park could be approved as a venue so quickly following the decision to move these events. With less than eight months to go until the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Games, Tokyo 2020 will continue to work closely as one team with all the parties involved in their preparation."