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No Consensus Reached on Olympic Marathon Course - Impact on Athlete Preparations Inevitable

The IOC held an executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec. 4. With regard to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathons and race walks, which the IOC decreed last month must be moved to north as an effort to combat expected high temperatures, the IOC's executive board turned down a plan from the Tokyo organizing committee for the marathon to be held on a two-lap course through the Sapporo city center. The board did accept an out-and-back race walk course along the major street in front of Sapporo Station.

The schedule for the marathons was settled, with the women's marathon to be held Aug. 8 and the men's on Aug. 9. A start and finish point at Odori Park and a first lap consisting of 20 km were also finalized, but an agreement on the rest of the marathon course could not be reached. Tadashi Fukushima, head coach of the Fujitsu corporate team whose runner Shogo Nakamura won September's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials, called for a decision to be made as quickly as possible, saying, "There's no upside to dragging this out. If they don't make a final decision right away it's going to upset athletes' mental preparations."

Trials runner-up Yuma Hattori's coach Toshinobu Sato, head of the Toyota corporate team, was calmer with regard to the current half-assed state of affairs, saying, "All we can do is act once they finish this. Our base training won't change and we don't plan to go see the course right away anyway."

2000 Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi voiced concern for the athletes, saying, "Training changes completely based on the time of the day, the weather conditions, the course. You have to think backwards from the race itself." The planned Tokyo course featured a series of uphills late in the race, but that will not be the case in Sapporo. With most of it likely to be flat, the move to Sapporo will remove much of the strategic element of the race and favor pure speed runners. "You'll need to have the power to control the race from the very outset," said Takahashi.

The race walks will be held along Sapporo Ekimae avenue. 2019 Doha World Championships men's 20 km gold medalist Toshikazu Yamanishi commented, "Nothing has changed about what needs to be done as an athlete. I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped to prepare these Olympic Games and I will do everything possible to win a gold medal."

After taking a half-step forward, all that remains is the finalize the second half of the marathon course. JAAF head Mitsugi Ogata commented, "From the athletes' point of view, even this will help them prepare. It's a little peace of mind, no matter what the form."

source articles:
https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2019120401175&g=spo
https://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20191204/ath19120420540002-n1.html
translated and edited by Brett Larner

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