Olympic marathon could start, finish at Sapporo’s Odori Park

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(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

Tokyo (AP) — The Tokyo Olympic marathons and race walks, moved last month to the northern city of Sapporo to avoid the capital’s summer heat, are likely to start and finish in the city’s Odori Park.

Tokyo organizers met with city prefectural officials on Monday. In a statement, organizers said they are also considering a loop course for next year’s marathons and race walks.

“While a loop-designed course was discussed during the meeting, the course details are still under discussion,” organizers said.

The men’s marathon was originally scheduled for Aug. 9, the final day of the Olympics, and IOC officials have said they prefer to keep that date.

Any plan will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee, likely at an executive board meeting early in December.

Moving the marathon became a flashpoint last month when the IOC’s unilateral decision was angrily opposed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. The IOC said it was moving the race because Tokyo is simply too hot, even if the races were begun at dawn, which Tokyo organizers proposed.

Koike and her allies said the IOC was inconsistent since it had known about Tokyo’s heat since the games were awarded in 2013. The IOC has also repeatedly praised Tokyo’s preparations to deal with the heat.