Bach Reassures Japan on Olympic Marathon Venue Change


Lausanne, Switzerland, Dec. 5 (Jiji Press)--International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach reassured the Japanese people Thursday on the IOC's decision to change the venue of the marathon and race walk events of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to Sapporo in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido from the capital of the country.

"The Japanese people need not to be worried or disappointed in any way," Bach said at a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, following an IOC executive board meeting earlier in the day. "The marathon and the race walk are taking place in Japan, so they can be very happy with this."

The venue change, pushed strongly by Bach, was decided in order to avoid the powerful summer heat in Tokyo.

"The one and only reason" for the move is "the risk for the health and the well-being of athletes, which has been explained to us by a scientific working group studying all the relevant data," the president said. "We had to take this decision," he said, adding, "The athletes can really look forward to a great Olympic experience in Japan."

At the Thursday meeting, the IOC board approved Odori Park in central Sapporo as the starting point and goal for the marathon, but the Tokyo Games organizing committee and World Athletics, formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations, failed to reach an agreement on the second half of the marathon course.

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