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Olympians will need to rise 'n' shine early in Tokyo

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-18 09:54
A shadow of of Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike is seen on the logo of Tokyo 2020 Olympic games during the Olympic and Paralympic flag-raising ceremony at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, Sept 21, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Several events scheduled to beat the summer heat in Japanese capital

TOKYO - For athletes and volunteers, next year's Tokyo Olympics could become known as the Get-Up-Early Games.

Hoping to beat the summer heat in the Japanese capital, organizers said on Tuesday they will start the men's 50-kilometer race walk final at 5:30 am, while the men's and women's marathon finals will go at 6 am.

Marathon swimming will kick off at 7 am, and the men's and women's triathlon start at 7:30 am.

Women's softball has some games scheduled for 9 am, but no men's baseball games will start before noon.

"A 9 am start is early, that's my impression," said Reika Utsugi, head coach of Japan's women's softball team. "But we will have one year for the preparation. Softball cannot decide the times."

Softball and baseball were dropped after the 2008 Olympics, and are appearing because of their popularity in Japan.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held in the fall and did not face heat problems.

Modern Olympics can no longer be held in that time frame, needing to avoid Europe's crowded soccer schedule, and year-round scheduling of baseball, basketball and hockey in the US.

Koji Murofushi, sports director of the Tokyo Games and an Olympic gold medalist in hammer, said organizers had consulted about scheduling with the International Olympic Committee, the governing bodies of the individual sports, and athletes and medical experts.

He said athletes will be able to adapt.

"When we look at the Olympic Games as a whole, of course we need to consider the global audience and adjust and control the overall schedule," Murofushi said.

"Athletes, when they know the schedule in advance, can make adjustments to their preparations."

As previously announced, the swimming finals will begin at 10:30 am. The swim schedule has nothing to do with the heat and will follow the pattern of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The morning schedule in Asia allows North American television to telecast the finals live in prime time in the evening.

American broadcaster NBC in 2011 agreed to pay the IOC $4.38 billion for TV rights through the 2020 Games. It later agreed to an extension through the 2032 Games, paying the IOC an additional $7.75 billion.

Organizers say the first gold medal event will be the women's 10-meter air rifle, which will take place on July 25 - the day after the opening ceremony.

Organizers have labeled Aug 8 - the day before the closing ceremony - as "Super Saturday", with about 30 finals, the most of any single day. Finals will include men's basketball, men's soccer and men's baseball.

The most difficult event to schedule might be surfing, which was added to the Tokyo Olympics.

Organizers have blocked out eight days for the event, hoping surf's up for at least four of them. It's a four-day competition.

"The schedule is subject to change depending on the wave conditions," organizers said.

The Olympic basketball tournament has been shortened for the Tokyo Games to cut the number of group matches from five to three for each team.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) says the new format will feature three four-team groups in both the men's and women's tournament.

The top two teams in each group are joined in the quarterfinals by the two best third-place teams.

Associated Press

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