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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Tokyo surrenders Olympic marathons to Hokkaido

Koike tells IOC her city disagrees with move but will 'not obstruct' it

Japanese runner Toshiharu Takai cools off with water during the London Marathon in 2018.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The city of Tokyo on Friday dropped its opposition to moving the Olympic marathon events to Hokkaido, where runners face less risk of falling victim to Japan's sweltering summer heat.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike met with John Coates, the International Olympic Committee's coordination commission chief for the 2020 Games, Tokyo Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori and Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto. They formally agreed on holding the marathons in the city of Sapporo on Japan's northernmost main island.

Koike said during the meeting that the metropolitan government disagrees with the relocation but will "not obstruct it."

The agreement ends a weekslong standoff between Tokyo and the IOC over the races. The committee first announced on Oct. 16 plans move the marathons to Sapporo, given that summer temperatures in Tokyo often exceed 30 C with high humidity.

Tokyo's working-level officials met on Thursday with IOC counterparts, reiterating a compromise in which the marathons would stay in the capital but start during early morning hours. However, the IOC declared that its decision was final. Tokyo acquiesced to avoid a drawn-out feud that could harm Olympic operations.

Tokyo's cooperation was on the condition that it not be asked to shoulder any costs of the venue change. The IOC and the organizing committee for the 2020 Games agreed to that on Friday.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and John Coates, the International Olympic Committee's coordination commission chief for the 2020 Games, meet in the Japanese capital on Nov. 1. (Pool photo)

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