The marathon and race walk events have been moved from Tokyo to Sapporo because of the heat, the IOC announced today ©Wikipedia

The Olympic marathon and race walking events for next year's Olympic Games have been moved from Tokyo to Sapporo, it has been announced today.

The move to Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan, will mean significantly lower temperatures for the athletes during the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claimed.

In Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympic Games, temperatures during the Games period are as much as five to six degrees centigrade cooler during the day than in Tokyo, more than 800 kilometres further south than the Japanese capital.

Concerns over the heat at Tokyo 2020 have grown in recent months after more than 50 people died in the city in July after temperatures of 40 degrees.

"Athletes' health and well-being are always at the heart of our concerns," IOC President Thomas Bach said upon his arrival here to attend the last day of the Association of National Olympic Committees World Beach Games.

"A range of measures to protect the athletes have already been announced.

"The new far-reaching proposals to move the marathon and race walking events show how seriously we take such concerns."

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