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2020 Olympic marathon to start at 6:00 a.m.

The early-morning start is an attempt to mitigate as much as possible the effects of heat and humidity in August in Tokyo

Lanni Marchant

The timetable for events at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 has been announced, and the marathon, which has generated much controversy due to the expected heat and humidity, will start at 6:00 a.m. The women will race on August 2, and the men one week later on August 9, the final day of the Games.

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Many analysts are predicting significant danger to athletes due to Japan’s high humidity at that time of year. Let’sRun.com compiled a table of past conditions showing conditions on those dates for each of the past 10 years, at both 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. (around the time athletes will be approaching the finish). With both temperature and dewpoint (humidity) averaging in the 70s F and into the low 80s (high 20s C), it’s obvious conditions could be very unpleasant, possibly even dangerous, for many runners. It’s also likely to lead to significantly slower finishing times and more DNF’s.

The situation is being likened to conditions at the Atlanta Games of 1996, when it was already 81 F (27 C) and 82 per cent humidity at the start of the marathon. According to Let’sRun.com, the winning time of 2:12:36, by Josia Thugwane of South Africa, was the second-slowest since 1968.

The Games begin on July 22, with track and field events starting July 31 and scheduled every day til the end of the Games.

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