The Tokyo Olympic marathon will begin at 6am local time

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One of the competitors in the marathon in Atlanta in 1996. The race began at 7am local time and temperatures reached 33 degrees.

One of the competitors in the marathon in Atlanta in 1996. The race began at 7am local time and temperatures reached 33 degrees.Credit:AP

Organisers of the 2020 Summer Olympics are heeding warnings from Japan's Medical Association about Tokyo's summer heat and humidity, on Tuesday announcing that the marathon will begin at 6am local time.

Racewalking, triathlon and rugby sevens also will take place in the early morning, while the mountain-biking events will start in the late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.

In October, Japan's Medical Association expressed "grave concerns" about the risks for 2020 Olympic athletes and spectators, considering that temperatures in Tokyo usually top out around 30 degrees Celsius in late July and early August, with high humidity. Last summer was especially brutal, as a summer heat wave killed at least 138 people in Japan, sent more than 70,000 people to hospitals and was declared a national emergency. Temperatures in Tokyo reached 40 degrees Celsius with 80 per cent humidity.

"The Tokyo marathon normally gets [a half-million] to 1 million spectators. Even if 0.1 percent of them get ill from heat, that would amount to 500 to 1000 people," Makoto Yokohari, a professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo, told The Washington Post in December. "Tokyo currently does not have the capability to rescue that many people, though starting at 6am may mean fewer spectators."

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Tokyo Olympic organisers are taking some steps to combat the heat, coating the marathon course and other major roads with more than 60 miles of a resin-based surface that reflects infrared rays and lowers the surface temperature. Fans will be able to retreat to tents and stand under fans that emit cooling mist, though a plan to air-condition the new national stadium in Tokyo was abandoned because of the costs involved.

The marathon course for the Tokyo Games.

The marathon course for the Tokyo Games.Credit:Tokyo 2020 via AP

For comparison's sake, the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics started at 9:30am local time and the temperature was around 19 deRead More – Source

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