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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 October 30 - November 5  > Dispute over 2020 Olympic marathon resulted from commercialism within IOC
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2019 October 30 - November 5 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Dispute over 2020 Olympic marathon resulted from commercialism within IOC

November 2, 2019

The marathon and race-walking events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be moved to Sapporo from Tokyo. This was agreed on November 1 by the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan government, the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, and the Japanese government.

They also agreed that the Tokyo Metropolitan government will not shoulder any additional costs necessary to change the venues of the marathon and race-walking events. The IOC, Tokyo organizing committee, Sapporo City government, and Hokkaido Prefectural government will discuss how to share the costs.

The present situation was derived from growing concern that to hold the Olympic Games in extreme summer heat is harmful to athletes’ health and performance.

Essentially, it is the IOC that is to blame. The IOC requires that candidate cities should host Summer Games between July 15 and August 31. This requirement was established supposedly in order to not conflict with the season for major professional sports leagues in the U.S. in line with the demands from U.S. TV networks which pay a huge amount of money to the IOC for broadcasting rights.

To hold Summer Games in the middle of summer goes counter to the essential need to avoid causing damage to athletes’ health. In addition, large-scale investment in measures to reduce heat risks will discourage cities from taking part in bids to host the Olympic Games. The IOC’s subservient attitude toward U.S. TV networks is the source of various problems.

Asked about the possibility of discontinuing holding Summer Games in the middle of summer, IOC Coordination Commission Chair John Coates gave a negative answer by saying that the IOC has decided to allow Olympic events to be held outside the host city and that this decision will work in Games in the future. Evidently, the IOC is reluctant to learn any lessons gained from the currently controversial 2020 marathon issue.

Commercialism is undermining the spirit of the Olympic movement. The IOC should take this fact into serious consideration and consider the possibility of holding Summer Games in cooler months. This is essential for the future of the Olympic movement.

Past related articles:
> 2020 Olympic competition schedule criticized as ‘US TV stations-first’ prioritization [April 18, 2019]
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