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World Athletics to allow bouncy Nikes at Tokyo 2020: report

Runners in the New Year Ekiden long-distance relay race are seen wearing thick-soled Nikes, on Jan. 1, 2020 in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture. (Mainichi/Shinnosuke Kyan)

TOKYO -- Thick-soled Nikes worn by runners who achieved a series of long-distance victories and one world record will not be banned from international competition before the Tokyo 2020 Games wrap up, according to a Jan. 29 report in Britain's The Guardian newspaper.

The paper reported in its online version that World Athletics is set to announce the decision on Jan. 31.

The Nikes are built with a springy carbon fiber plate attached to a light cushion layer, resulting in a soft landing plus a strong bounce-back. The point of contention is whether they "give athletes any unfair assistance or advantage" forbidden under international track competition rules.

The international athletics governing body apparently intends to compare the effect of Nike Vaporfly trainers on runners' performances with those made by other firms, and possibly introduce restrictions on thick-soled runners depending on the results of the study. World Athletics will also reportedly consider requiring shoemakers to submit new products for testing and approval before they can be used in competition.

The body will also not permit any new thick-soled shoe models developed between now and the end of the Tokyo Olympics.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge set his men's world marathon record time -- the first under two hours -- wearing Nikes for the run in Vienna in October 2019. In Japan, more than 80% of the runners in the 2020 New Year Ekiden and the 2020 Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race, including most and all of the members of the respective championship teams, were sporting the thick-soled shoes.

(Japanese original by Yuta Kobayashi, Sports News Department)

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