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Tokyoites split over holding 2020 Olympic events in Sapporo: survey

Residents of the capital are divided over whether to hold the 2020 Olympic Games marathon and race walking events in Sapporo, according to a survey released Monday by the Tokyo metropolitan government.
In the survey of around 2,000 residents, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, 36 percent supported the International Olympic Committee's plan to shift the events to Sapporo, while 32 percent were opposed.
But 76 percent also viewed the process for changing the venue as "inappropriate," after the IOC abruptly announced the plan on Oct 16 without providing sufficient explanation to the metropolitan government.
The plan to hold the races in the city on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido came amid increasing concern about the expected extreme heat in Tokyo during the Summer Games.
The metropolitan government said it had received 417 opinions regarding the plan via email and telephone calls from Oct 17 through 24, with about 90 percent expressing opposition to the change of venue.
The results of the survey were revealed during the metropolitan assembly's special committee session on the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
On Friday, John Coates, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, met with Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike and sought her understanding of the IOC plan. The Tokyo government is formulating counterproposals, including earlier start times, so that the races can be held in Tokyo.
The metropolitan assembly issued a statement Monday requesting that the IOC and the 2020 Olympics organizing committee explain how they came up with the Sapporo proposal, urging them to reach an agreement with the metropolitan government and relevant sporting associations before making their decision.
Tokyo now plans to submit the statement, signed by the chairman and vice chairman of the assembly, as well as various political parties, to the IOC and organizing committee.
The statement emphasized that the marathon and race walking events "are a precious opportunity for a wide range of citizens to get involved, including as spectators or volunteers," and also cited a variety of issues, such as costs, accommodation availability and security, should the event be shifted to Sapporo.
While having "a standpoint which puts athletes first is extremely important," there is also "a need for discussions based on a solid understanding of Tokyo's initiatives up to this point," the document stressed.
The planned change of venue will be discussed during a special session of the IOC commission starting Wednesday in Tokyo.
Coates told reporters after his talks with Koike that the IOC Executive Board was "the competent authority to take a decision such as this," and the decision "has been taken."


KYODO
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