Tokyo Olympics: Poor training facilities, ‘cold mud’ served at Sapporo ‘prison’

British walker Tom Bosworth compared the athlete's village of Sapporo in Japan to a

Tom Bosworth / Twitter

British walker Tom Bosworth has compared the athlete’s village of Sapporo in Japan to a “prison”.

Olympic athletes criticized the poor training facilities in Sapporo village and the “cold mud” that is served, comparing it to a “prison”.

New Zealand marathoner Zane Robertson is in Sapporo ahead of his Olympic run, but is disappointed with the training facilities.

“Landed in Sapporo and this is the only place to train for the Olympics,” he wrote alongside a video of the shared training space.

“How can all walking athletes and all marathon athletes train here? “

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In Robertson’s video, athletes could be seen running and walking around the concrete training area, with a few tents set up. There were no obvious markers in place to encourage physical distancing, which was one of the requirements at the Games along with the use of the mask and frequent hand washing.

The practice lap was also less than a mile long, a fraction of the distances these athletes were preparing to run or walk at the Games.

Robertson said he had expected that in the age of Covid-19, appropriate spacing for training in open space would be available.

The Hokkaido City facility in Sapporo, located about 1,100 km north of Tokyo, was used for walking and marathons.

The location was chosen in October 2019 due to concerns about the heat in Tokyo. This decision was critical by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who called it “unprecedented”, and the Japan Association of Athletics Federations who said it was “regrettable”.

Training facilities weren’t the only thing to let walkers and marathoners down.

British walker Tom Bosworth shared his grievances over Sapporo village food in a tweet that has since been deleted.

He wrote: “Hey [International Olympic Committee] you know the millions of [dollars] you are going to the Olympic Games. Luckily, in the week of our race, we could get some food? Do you like meals? No cold porridge, steamed onions or partially cooked pasta? It is the “pinnacle of sport”. Sapporo looks like a prison.

Bosworth described it as a “sweaty school dining room that a life of hard work gives you.”

He asked the IOC a question, asking if they could be “a little athlete-oriented”.

“Do you have any luck having a place to get some fresh air outside of the 900m practice lap we have?” A cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt.

There seemed to be a big disparity between the food served in Sapporo village and the main village in Tokyo.

In the two-story dining and casual dining room, Tokyo athletes had around 700 menu items to choose from, which were divided into three categories: Western, Japanese, and Asian. The cuisine has taken dietary and religious requirements into account, even offering gluten-free options for the first time in Olympic history.

The first races at the Sapporo facility were due to start this week. The course would start and end at Odori Park and pass through Sapporo TV Tower, Toyohira River, and Hokkaido University.

“The first laps of the course in Sapporo Odori Park will make Sapporo’s cityscape an ideal backdrop for runners, sharing its charms with fans around the world,” said Tokyo 2020 General Manager Toshiro Muto.

The course is a large loop the length of a half marathon and a second smaller loop that will be completed twice, depending on the length of the race.

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