Odori Park in Sapporo (© Yoshimura)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today announced that Sapporo Odori Park in Hokkaido was approved by the IOC as the venue for the marathon and race walk events at the IOC Executive Board meeting held today in Lausanne, Switzerland. This followed confirmation from World Athletics.
Sapporo’s Odori Park has been used in the past as a venue for the Hokkaido Marathon, giving the local authorities considerable experience in operating major events in this area, and it is a popular spot for tourists and local residents, hosting a number of different events throughout the year. It is a large open space of about 7.8 hectares in the centre of Sapporo City, featuring beautiful lawns, flower beds and trees.
The park was chosen also because its layout allows both the marathon and race walk events to be held at the same venue, while the topography of the surrounding area allows for the creation of exciting competition courses. At Games time, temporary facilities will be constructed at the park to support operations.
The IOC, World Athletics and Tokyo 2020 also agreed on 1 and 2km loops for the race walk and a 20km loop course for the first stage of the marathon, leaving as a legacy a half-marathon course which can host a future annual event. From the busy station area with streets lined with commercial buildings, the course will pass iconic local sights such as Hokkaido University, helping to transmit the rich charm of the city to the world. World Athletics and Tokyo 2020 will continue their discussions on the second half of the course, and will conduct a site inspection in order to reach a mutual decision on overall operations by mid-December.
The competition schedules have also been revamped to facilitate the support of NOC officials and coaches to the athletes, as Sapporo is located 800km to the north of Tokyo. The marathon and race walk events are now scheduled to be held on four consecutive days, from 6 to 9 August. The revised schedule is as follows:
4:30pm – men’s 20km race walk
5:30am – men’s 50km race walk
4:30pm – women’s 20km race walk
7:00am – women’s marathon
7:00am – men’s marathon
“Athletes’ health and well-being are always at the heart of our concerns, and the decision to move the marathon and race walk events to Sapporo shows how seriously we take such concerns,” said IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry. “We also want the Olympic Games to be the platform where athletes can give ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ performances, and this new venue ensures that they will have the conditions to give their best. I would like to thank the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the local authorities and World Athletics for confirming this new venue so quickly, in order to give the athletes as much preparation time as possible. I look forward to seeing the marathon and race walk athletes compete in Sapporo in front of a passionate crowd next August.”
Tokyo 2020 LOC