Tokyo proposes earlier marathon start times

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Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike pose for a group photo with Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascot Miraitowa and Paralympic mascot Someity during the mascots' debut in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – 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 7 a.m. local time but now Games organisers have asked the IAAF, athletics’ governing body, to approve moving the start time to either 5.30 a.m. or 6.00 a.m. local.

The Tokyo 2020 Games will run from July 24 – August 9.

Temperatures in Tokyo reached a record 41.1 degrees Celsius this year.

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.

The times for the rugby and mountain bike events have also been changed after the IOC’s Coordination 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 a.m., 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.”

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