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Paralympics: IPC "confident" it can work around Tokyo summer heat

International Paralympic Committee spokesman Graig Spence (L) speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on March 7, 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The International Paralympic Committee is "confident" that it can work around the summer heat at the 2020 Tokyo Games without changing the starting times of the events, a senior official of the games' governing body said Thursday.

Following the conclusion of the latest project review with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, chief marketing and communications officer Craig Spence said he does currently not see the need to change the schedule of any Paralympic events, including the starting time of the marathon.

"In terms of the competition schedule, when we originally created it, we created it with heat in mind," Spence told a press conference in Tokyo.

"We are looking at all data and at the moment we are confident that starting times we got will be fine for August and September," he said. "You have to remember we start later than the Olympics."

Spence explained the IPC was not as concerned as Olympic organizers are about Japan's extreme summer heat, which last year reached a record temperature of 41.1 C near Tokyo, since the Paralympics start on Aug. 25, over two weeks after the July 24-Aug. 9 Olympics conclude.

High temperatures in the Japanese capital have been one of the biggest issues for organizers in the run-up to the 2020 Games. In response, the organizing committee proposed in December that the Olympic marathons begin at 6 a.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled to avoid the heat.

The Paralympic race remains scheduled to start at 7 a.m. on Sept. 6, the final day of the games.

"Taking into account the data that we have from the previous September, we are confident that a 7 o'clock start time is a good solution," Spence said.

"Obviously we will monitor the weather this September to see the temperature at 7 a.m. on the day of the marathon, and if we feel like we need to change it, we will."

Spence said the start time for the marathon is an "appropriate solution for our athletes," who may also be competing in an athletics event the night before.

At the two-day project review, members of the National Paralympic Committees of Canada, Britain and Japan also participated in the discussion of several issues including transportation and accommodations.

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, said, "We will do our best to have the Japanese people become more engaged with the Paralympics."

"We will speed up our preparations so we can welcome the athletes at venues packed with spectators," he said.

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