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Tokyo Gov. sarcastically suggests holding Olympic marathon events in N. Territories

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is seen speaking to reporters about a possible change in Olympic marathon venues while standing outside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, on Oct. 17, 2019, in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. (Mainichi/Kentaro Mori)

TOKYO -- Gov. Yuriko Koike has reacted with surprise and some displeasure to the news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is investigating moving the marathon and race walking events for the 2020 Games away from the capital to the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.

Speaking at a regular convention of the Tokyo branch of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) in the capital on Oct. 17, the governor said, "Talk of this has come up quite suddenly. Perhaps the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been the last to be notified of it. It's certainly a bolt from the blue."

She then sarcastically suggested organizers might consider moving the events further away to the Russian-held Northern Territories: "If we're going to start talking about places that are cool, I hope there'll be calls from within Rengo for the events to be held in the Northern Territories.

"Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President (of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) Yoshiro Mori are very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, so I think it's a good idea to ask why we can't just have a festival of peace in the Northern Territories."

Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki welcomed the planned marathon move to the prefectural capital of Sapporo, saying while in Tokyo on Oct. 17, "Whatever the result, we'll work to provide a thoroughly prepared event."

(Japanese original by Koichi Uchida and Shohei Oshima, City News Department)

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