Olympic Marathon at centre of row between IOC and Tokyo officials
Last Updated: 30/10/19 7:22pm
The International Olympic Committee has a fight on its hands in its attempt to move next year's Olympic marathon from Tokyo to the cooler northern city of Sapporo.
The IOC made the move after marathon runners collapsed in extreme heat at the world athletics championships in Doha, Qatar earlier this month.
At the opening of three days of meetings between the IOC and Tokyo officials, the city's governor Yuriko Koike, strongly criticised the proposed changes.
"Let me clearly state that, as the leader of the host city and the representative of the people of Tokyo, it is my wish for the marathon and the race walk to be held in Tokyo," Koike said.
Koike also reminded Christophe Dubi, the Olympic Games executive director, that earlier this year he had supported Tokyo's measures to beat the summer heat which included running early, providing shade for fans, and installing heat-resistant pavement.
"In the six years since Tokyo won the bid in 2013, the municipality of Tokyo and our residences as well, have been working together to prepare for the event in the anticipation of the Games.
"Notably, regarding measures to address the heat while receiving the advice of IOC expertise in medicine and health.
"We have been working in close co-operation with the organising committee and other parties to put in place a diversity of measures.
"These include solar heat blocking pavements, securing shade, and studying the hours that the event will be held. Much time and money went into these efforts".
Political allies of Koike said that moving the marathon would cost at least 34 billion Yen (£0.25billion).
In response the IOC said it wants Tokyo to understand the reasons why it is switching the race.
John Coates, the IOC's Coordination Commission chief for the Tokyo Games, said he did not want to leave at the end of the week without gaining the people of Tokyo's understanding about the move.
"We owe it to the people of Tokyo to make sure they are fully briefed," Coates said.
Coates added that he wanted to form a four-party group comprised of the IOC, the Tokyo government, national government and the 2020 Organising Committee to work out the details of the change.
Koike has said the capital was ready to make further adjustments, including changing the route and start time with some media reports suggesting as early as 3am.
When Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964, they were held in October, an option no longer possible due to international sports schedules.
Next year's Games are set to run from July 24 to Aug 9, with the marathon to be held on the final day of the games.