The decision to move the marathons and race-walking events at Tokyo 2020 is final and will not be revisited, despite local opposition to the switch, senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official John Coates has confirmed.
Coates, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020, told reporters before meeting Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike today that the decision "had been taken" and answered "no" when asked if the events could remain in the Japanese capital.
The Australian added the IOC was aware of the "great disappointment" in Tokyo, but stressed the decision to relocate the races to Sapporo, 800 kilometres north of the capital, had been made with the "health and welfare" of the athletes in mind.
Concerning scenes during the marathons at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Doha were the main reason behind the move, Coates said.
A total of 28 athletes withdrew from the women's marathon due to extreme heat, while others were given medical treatment as a result of the conditions.
Daily temperatures in Sapporo - the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture in Japan - are as much as five to six degrees centigrade cooler during the time of the Games than in Tokyo.
"The IOC was shocked by what we saw in Doha in very similar conditions in terms of temperature and humidity to what's expected here in Tokyo," Coates said.
"We didn't want Tokyo to be remembered for similar images as you will have seen in Doha in the marathon and in the race-walking events."
Coates also dismissed suggestions that the races could be staged in Tokyo as early as 3am to combat the expected high temperatures.
Reports surfaced yesterday that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government would propose holding the events at either 3am or 5am to ensure they took place in the capital instead of Sapporo.
Koike has been critical of the move and reiterated her opposition following the meeting with Coates, where she reportedly demanded an explanation behind the switch.
In the latest development in an unusually public dispute between an Olympic host city and the IOC, the Governor described it as a "bolt out of the blue".
"Unfortunately we haven't been given a reason that's convincing to everyone," she said.
Coates appeared to suggest the IOC would attempt to appease the Metropolitan Government by holding the medal ceremonies for the marathons and race-walking events in Tokyo.
Discussions are also set to take place regarding potential economic losses for Tokyo resulting from the move to Sapporo.
The issue will be on the agenda during the next inspection visit of the IOC Coordination Commission to Tokyo, from October 30 to November 1.