Paralympics marathon to start earlier to beat heat

TOKYO • The marathon race at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will start 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled, as part of the organisers' efforts to tackle the heat threatening athletes and fans in the Japanese capital.

With less than a year till the Olympics, the Games' ability to contend with extreme heat is a key talking point, particularly after a worker at a Tokyo 2020 construction site died on Thursday, with heatstroke the suspected cause.

Soaring temperatures have killed at least 57 people across Japan since late July, highlighting the possible health threat to athletes and fans.

While announcing the full schedule of the Paralympics, which runs from Aug 25 to Sept 6, organisers said changes were being made to accommodate the high temperatures, including starting the marathon at 6.30am.

"As it has been discussed a lot, the heat countermeasures are something we must take into consideration. Even though it will be held at the end of August, it will still be hot," said Games director Koji Murofushi.

"From the 'athletes first' point of view, the start time of the marathon has been moved 30 minutes early from 7am to 6.30."

The triathlon start has been moved from 8am to 7.30am, and equestrian expanded from four to five days to "avoid having the competition at the hottest time of the day", he added. Organisers may also have to contend with Japan's notoriously devastating typhoon season, which usually runs from July to October.

Tickets for the Paralympics will go on sale for Japanese residents in a lottery on Aug 22, with ticket prices for groups and families starting for as little as 500 yen (S$6.60).

The low-priced tickets are aimed at under-12 children and those with disabilities in a bid to boost attendance and interest in the Games. The most expensive tickets are for the opening ceremony on Aug 25, with the highest category costing 150,000 yen.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline 'Paralympics marathon to start earlier to beat heat'. Print Edition | Subscribe