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Japan Olympics: Sapporo relocation brings several problems

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Madrid, Dec 5: The transfer to Sapporo of the 2020 Olympic Games race walk and marathon has solved one problem but raised a number of others.

The events were moved to the city 800 km north of Tokyo over concerns about the impact of the capital's high temperatures on the health of athletes but the new location has raised other problems related to logistics, transfers, cost and accommodation, which the International Olympic Committee must resolve in the coming weeks.

The IOC executive commission, which is meeting this week in Lausanne, Switzerland, approved the new dates and times of the events on four consecutive days, from August 6 to 9, the last four days of the Games, and the main headquarters, Odori Park, reports Efe news.

Kitt McConnell, IOC sports director, said the coming two weeks will be key, with meetings in Japan between the parties involved to deal with the pending issues.

The race walk events will be held in a 20 km circuit laid out in Odori Park. 

The first half of the male and female marathons will take place in the same setting.

There are several options for the second half of the competition, to repeat the same route or use another circuit of about seven km which would take three laps. 

McConnell said the second option would allow medical services to be concentrated and require less support staff.

The transfer of the headquarters of five events from Tokyo to Sapporo will involve costs for the organising committee and the municipality.

Christophe Dubi, IOC sports director and deputy Olympic Games executive director, said Sapporo will have already hosted a group from the first phase of the Olympic football tournament, so the city will be prepared and the cost to the municipality reduced.

The organisers must develop a plan to transfer athletes from Tokyo to Sapporo, their support staff and the necessary officers for the development of the events.

The cities are separated by a journey of one hour and 40 minutes by plane.

Medals from the Sapporo events will be awarded in Tokyo, so planning the dates of the awards ceremony, particularly the men's marathon, is required on the same day as the closing ceremony of the games.

After the triathlon and equestrian events were changed to mitigate the effect of heat, the United States team requested the venue for open water swimming also be modified. 

They are planned in Tokyo Bay and some swimmers have complained about the temperature of the water, the smell and bacteria in the urban area.

McConnell said there are no plans to change the location unless there is a rise in temperature.

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