Tokyo 2020 propose earlier marathon time
‘Based on the proposals of the IOC’s expert group, we are proceeding to recommended earlier starting times for the men’s and women’s marathons and the 20km race walk’
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organisers have formally proposed moving the start time of the marathon races forward to avoid the worst of the Japanese capital’s scorching summer heat.
The marathon events were initially scheduled to start at 7am local time but now Games organisers have asked the IAAF, athletics’ governing body, to approve moving the start time to either 5.30am or 6.00am local. The Tokyo 2020 Games will run from July 24 to August 9.
Temperatures in Tokyo reached a record 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) this year, with the July average reaching more than 30 degrees since 1998, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
There were even calls to introduce daylight savings time for the Games but with those plans squashed, an earlier start time is likely to appease athletes and spectators alike worried about the heat. The times for the rugby and mountain bike events have also been changed after the IOC’s Co-ordination Commission took advice from a team of experts.
“Based on the proposals of the IOC’s expert group, we are proceeding to recommended earlier starting times for the men’s and women’s marathons and the 20 kilometre race walk,” said Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori in Tokyo yesterday.
“As it is necessary to receive approval of such changes from the IAAF, we will work closely with them and aim to make a decision by the end of this year.”
All the morning rugby sessions will now start at nine am, one and a half hours earlier than previously scheduled, with the cross-country cycling push back an hour into the early evening.
“It will continue to be front of mind for us and the organisers and front of mind for the teams that are coming here,” added commission chair John Coates.
“We will do everything possible to ensure they are not competing at risk.”
Tokyo 2020 organisers are due to announce version three of the budget on December 21 and the swathe of heat countermeasures proposed, including increased shade for spectators and a heat-blocking surface to the road, will add to the costs involved. “There is a list of about 20 precautions they think we ought to take and they are not going to be free,” said Coates.
Despite this, Coates and the Tokyo 2020 organisers are confident that the operating budget will break even.
“There is still someway to go in terms of sponsorships, to balance the operating budget and there is still the ticket revenue to be achieved,” said Coates.
“But I would be very confident that it would be a balanced budget, which in effect means the operating costs will not cost the taxpayers anything.”
“The Olympic movement, the Games, will have provided all the revenues for the operating costs.”
The costs for the Games’ venues, which are largely all running to schedule, will be absorbed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and are separate to the operating costs.
The previous time Japan hosted the Olympics, in 1964, the competition were held in October to avoid the hot summer conditions.
Organisers have toyed with several ways of beating the heat - even proposing the introduction of daylight saving time, an idea that appears to have fallen by the wayside.
Japan adopted daylight saving in 1948 under US occupation after defeat in World War II, but scrapped it four years later following concerns it was encouraging longer work hours.
Coates noted that this summer was abnormal, with the mercury touching a record 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) during the hottest periods.
The hottest day of Olympic competition is the 36 Celsius measured at the 2004 Athens Games.
The times for rugby and mountain bike events have also been changed after the co-ordination commission took advice from experts
International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President John Coates (left) and President of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic organising committee Yoshiro Mori attend a news conference in Tokyo on July 12, 2018.