The International Olympic Committee has just announced it is planning to move the 2020 Tokyo Olympic women’s and men’s marathons and race walking events to the colder climate of Sapporo on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.

The marathons for men and women are set for Aug. 2 and 9, with race walking events from July 31 through Aug. 8. Temperatures in Sapporo are forecast to be “5 to 6 degrees Celsius cooler [9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit] during the day than in Tokyo.”

Concerns over the heat at Tokyo 2020 have grown in recent months after more than 50 people died in the city in July after temperatures of 40 degrees.

“Athletes’ health and well-being are always at the heart of our concerns,” IOC President Thomas Bach said upon his arrival here to attend the last day of the Association of National Olympic Committees World Beach Games.

“A range of measures to protect the athletes have already been announced.

“The new far-reaching proposals to move the marathon and race walking events show how seriously we take such concerns.”

In an IOC press release, International Association of Athletics Federations President Sebastian Coe said, “We have been working closely with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 on the potential weather conditions at next year’s Olympic Games and will continue to work with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 on the proposal to move the road events to Sapporo.”

The IOC said Sapporo is preferable as summer temperatures are between 5 to 6 degrees Celsius cooler than in Tokyo.

“The plans are part of a wide range of measures already being taken by Tokyo 2020 in consultation with the IOC and the International Federations to mitigate the effects of the temperatures which may occur next summer. The IOC has informed world athletics about the proposed changes,” the IOC statement said.

“The implementation of the initiative to move the marathon and the race walks will be discussed with all the stakeholders concerned, in particular, the host city Tokyo, along with world athletics, the National Olympic Committees, Olympic Broadcasting Services and the rights-holding broadcasters.”