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 in the footsteps of their heroes.
Following the IOC Executive Board decision of 4 December, 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.
Sapporo, the host city for the 1972 Olympic Winter Games, will also host another competition of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – football will be played at the Sapporo Dome, allowing for organisational synergies.
For the marathon, athletes will start by running two laps in 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, originally founded in 1876.
The race walk courses, approved by the IOC Executive Board earlier this month, feature 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 IOC 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.