The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, displeased about the plan to switch the marathon venue from Tokyo to Sapporo. (Image via The Japan Times)

Koike quips Sapporo marathon plan, tells to hold it in Russian island instead

Due to the concern for the scorching heat of summer during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan held on 24 July to 9 August., International Olympics Committee (IOC) put forth the idea to move the marathon venue from Tokyo to Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost island of Hokkaido.

International Olympic Committee representative John Coates, on Wednesday, apologized to the 2020 Olympics Organizers about the plan to move the venue from Tokyo to Sapporo. Coates said that the plan was indeed abrupt, however, the IOC could not leave the scorching matter up in the air.

Coates stated that the main reason for moving the venue was because Sapporo is a lot cooler in temperature and safer so that the Olympics athletes could give their best performance.

The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, could not accept that proposal. Speaking in a regular convention of the Tokyo branch of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) on Thursday, Koike stated that the proposal from IOC was out of the blue. The Japanese politician who can also speak Arabic said that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government was the last to be informed.

Koike also stated her displeasure toward the plan. She then quipped the IOC by stating that if they wanted a cooler place for the marathon, the marathon should be held in the Northern Territories. Japan’s Northern Territories are known to be held by Russia.

The 67-year old politician said that the relations between Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Yoshiro Mori, and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, were very close; therefore, Abe and Mori should use the chance to ask for Putin’s permission to hold a “festival of peace” in Sapporo instead.

However, the quip seems to be ineffective. On Thursday, the President of IOC, Thomas Bach, and Mori stated that the change of venue was inevitable. However, the proposal needs further scrutiny as it will be discussed during the Coordination Commission meeting in Tokyo from 30 October to 1 November.

When being asked about his opinion on the IOC’s plan, the Governor of Hokkaido, Naomichi Suzuki, gladly welcomed the plan. Despite the plan being up in the air, Suzuki stated that whatever the result, Hokkaido would work its best to prepare for the next year’s event.

It is not the first time for Sapporo to hold the Olympics. In 1976, Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. Initially, the city aimed for the 2026 Winter Olympics. However, the aim shifted to the 2030 edition.

Many efforts have been done by the Japanese to tackle the scorching heat of the summer season during the 2020 Olympics. One of which by making artificial snow with shaved ice. However, the solution seems ineffective since it only makes the spectators wet and they slip over the wet, slippery floor due to the melting shaved ice.


The displeasure towards the IOC’s plan did not come only from Koike. People who had bought the ticket in advance were in uproar as well. Hearing that the IOC will move the venue from Tokyo to the northernmost part of Japan, Hokkaido, these people could not take it.

Some people, who won the lottery for the ticket to the 2020 Summer Olympics, brought up their bewilderment onto Twitter. They sarcastically asked about the tickets that they have got to the men’s marathon in Tokyo and what should be done to it.

For men’s marathon, the ticket was sold in advance between ¥2,020 and ¥6,000. For women’s marathon including track and field events, the ticket was sold between ¥2,020 and ¥30,000. Meanwhile, for the race walking, the ticket has not been sold yet.