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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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Scott Brosius to take USA Baseball managerial job, replacing Joe Girardi

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Just one month before the Premier 12, a tournament giving the U.S. baseball team an opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, USA Baseball has announced a managerial switch.

USA Baseball executive Scott Brosius, who won three World Series with the New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000 and had a slugging percentage of .529 in four World Series appearances, will take over in place of Joe Girardi. USA Baseball said Girardi has stepped down to focus on opportunities in Major League Baseball.

Brosius was previously named to serve as the team’s bench coach. Several other coaches have been reshuffled, with Willie Randolph moving to bench coach, Ernie Young moving to third base and 2000 gold medalist Anthony Sanders joining the staff to coach at first base. Left unchanged: hitting coach Phil Plantier, pitching coach Bryan Price and bullpen coach Roly de Armas.

The U.S. team will play the Netherlands, host Mexico and the Dominican Republic, starting Nov. 2. The top two teams from the group will advance to the six-team Super Round in Japan.

The top finisher from the Americas region and the top finisher from Asia/Oceania (except Japan, which has an automatic bid as host) will qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament. The U.S. will have two more opportunities to qualify after that.

The U.S. won silver in the first Premier 12 tournament in 2015. As in 2015, the U.S. will not use players on MLB 40-man rosters.

PREMIER 12: Roster

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Tokyo Olympic marathon moved to Sapporo over heat concerns

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On the heels of world championship marathons that saw many runners drop out in the Qatar heat, even with the races being run at midnight, the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday that the 2020 Olympic marathon and race walks will be moved from host city Tokyo to Sapporo in search of cooler weather.

Only 40 of 68 starters finished the women’s marathon in Qatar, which had a starting temperature of 32.7 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) with 73.3 percent humidity, putting the heat index at 111 degrees Fahrenheit. In the 2017 world championships in London, 78 of 92 runners completed the course. In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, only 24 of 157 runners failed to finish.

MORE: Chepngetich wins marathon of attrition

(The men’s marathon in Qatar was run on a cooler evening, and 55 of 73 runners finished.)

The race walks in Tokyo are set for July 31, Aug. 7 and Aug. 8. The marathons will be run Aug. 2 and Aug. 9. This year, the high temperatures in Tokyo for those dates ranged from 93 degrees Fahrenheit to 96; the lowest temperature for the whole week was 78 degrees Aug. 5. In Sapporo, the average high for August is 79 degrees.

Sapporo has already hosted Olympic action — the 1972 Winter Olympics. 

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