Odori Park in Sapporo (© Yoshimura)
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today unveiled the course for the marathon events in Sapporo, Hokkaido, following visits by and discussions among representatives from the International Olympic Committee, World Athletics, Tokyo 2020 and local authorities.
The course features a larger loop approximately the length of a half-marathon and a second smaller loop of approximately 10 kilometres that will be traversed twice. This course has been designed with athletes' well-being in mind and will deliver maximum efficiency to the National Olympic Committees and related bodies, who will be looking after the athletes, as well as leave a standing legacy course for any future annual marathon and road events in the city so recreational walkers and runners can follow the footsteps of their heroes.
Venue - Sapporo Odori Park
Sapporo Odori Park will be the starting and finishing point for both the marathon and race walk courses. The park features a large open space of around 7.8 hectares in the centre of Sapporo featuring beautiful lawns, flower beds and trees. It is a popular spot for tourists and local residents and hosts a number of different events throughout the year. The park lies at the heart of the host city for the 1972 Olympic Winter Games, which already hosts another competition venue for Tokyo 2020 - the Sapporo Dome for football - allowing for organisational synergies.
For the marathon, athletes will start by running two laps within the park against a backdrop of the Sapporo TV Tower, one of the city's landmarks, and will then head south along Sapporo Ekimae-dori Avenue towards the busy station area through streets lined with commercial and office buildings. Among other iconic landmarks, athletes will cross the Toyohira River, originally known as the Sapporo River, which gave the city its name, and then travel north towards Hokkaido University, one of Japan's prestigious former imperial universities, founded in 1876. With this marathon course, the attractions of Japan's most northerly prefectural capital will be showcased to the world during next summer's Olympic Games.
The race walk courses, approved by the IOC Executive Board earlier this month, features 1km and 2km loops for the 20km and 50km distances respectively, along Sapporo Ekimae-dori Avenue.
Commenting from Tokyo, World Athletics Technical Delegate and Council Member Sylvia Barlag said: "Developing courses for the Olympic marathon and race walk events is always an exciting challenge to achieve a balance of athlete welfare, showcasing the city, ensuring technical and broadcast requirements are met and providing a great backdrop for spectators to enjoy the Olympic experience. We have achieved this in Sapporo and want to thank all the stakeholders and, in particular, our athletes, who have come together in a short space of time to help create these courses. We now look forward to the world's greatest marathon runners and race walkers battling for Olympic gold on the streets of Sapporo."
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said: "The course's opening laps in Sapporo Odori Park will set the Sapporo cityscape as a fitting backdrop for the runners, sharing its charms with fans around the world. In addition to discussions with World Athletics and the IOC, which took place throughout the course finalisation process, I thank the City of Sapporo and Hokkaido Prefecture for their invaluable support. We will continue to work closely with all parties concerned to ensure the marathons and race walks in Sapporo are a success."
World Athletics, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 will continue to work closely with the relevant local authorities to ensure the success of both the marathon and race walk events in Sapporo during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.