Athletics at the 2020 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon

The men's marathon event at the 2020 Summer Olympics is scheduled to take place on 8 August 2021 in Sapporo.[1] Approximately eighty athletes are expected to compete; the exact number will depend on how many nations use universality places to enter athletes in addition to the 80 qualifying through time or ranking (4 universality places were used in 2016).[2]

Men's marathon
at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad
Olympic Athletics.png
Olympic Athletics
Date8 August 2021
Competitors~80 from ~60 nations
← 2016
2024 →


This will be the 29th appearance of the event, which is one of 12 athletics events to have been held at every Summer Olympics.


A National Olympic Committee (NOC) could enter up to 3 qualified athletes in the men's marathon if all athletes meet the entry standard or qualify by ranking during the qualifying period. (The limit of 3 has been in place since the 1930 Olympic Congress.) The qualifying standard is 2:11:30. This standard was "set for the sole purpose of qualifying athletes with exceptional performances unable to qualify through the IAAF World Rankings pathway." Runners in the top 10 at the 2019 world championship, the top 5 at any IAAF Gold Label marathon, and the top 10 at the Marathon Major Series were deemed to have met the qualifying standard, regardless of actual time. The world rankings, based on the average of the best five results for the athlete over the qualifying period and weighted by the importance of the meet, will then be used to qualify athletes until the cap of 80 is reached.[2][3]

To be a qualifying performance, the course had to have been certified in the last five years by a Grade A or Grade B road course measurer. In order to be eligible for the qualifying standard time, the elevation decrease could not be more than 1 metre per kilometre. For world rankings, the elevation decrease could exceed that rate, but a correction would be made to the score.[2]

The qualifying period was originally from 1 January 2019 to 31 May 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the period was suspended from 6 April 2020 to 30 November 2020, with the end date extended to 31 May 2021. The world rankings period start date was also changed from 1 January 2019 to 1 December 2018. The qualifying time standards could be obtained in various meets during the given period that have the approval of the IAAF. The most recent Area Championships may be counted in the ranking, even if not during the qualifying period.[2][4]

NOCs can also use their universality place—each NOC can enter one male athlete regardless of time if they had no male athletes meeting the entry standard for an athletics event—in the marathon.[2]

Competition format and courseEdit

As all Olympic marathons, the competition will be a single race. The marathon distance of 26 miles, 385 yards will be run over a course that starts with two laps around Odori Park. The route then includes a large loop (about half the marathon's length) through the streets of Sapporo, passing by Nakajima Park, Sapporo TV Tower, and Hokkaido University, and crossing the Toyohira River twice. The course then takes two trips around a smaller (approximately 10 kilometres) section of the large loop. The finish line is back at Odori Park.[5]


Prior to this competition, the existing world, Olympic, and area records are as follows.

World record   Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:01:39 Berlin, Germany 16 September 2018
Olympic record   Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) 2:06:32 Beijing, China 24 August 2008
Area Time Athlete Nation
Africa (records) 2:01:39 WR Eliud Kipchoge   Kenya
Asia (records) 2:04:43 El Hassan El-Abbassi   Bahrain
Europe (records) 2:04:16 Kaan Kigen Özbilen   Turkey
North, Central America
and Caribbean
2:05:38 Khalid Khannouchi   United States
Oceania (records) 2:07:51* Robert de Castella   Australia
South America (records) 2:06:05 Ronaldo da Costa   Brazil

* — Boston Marathon, aided road course per IAAF rule 260.28


All times are Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)

Date Time Round
Sunday, 8 August 2021 7:00 Final


  1. ^ "Athletics Competition Schedule". Tokyo 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Qualification System – Games of the XXXI Olympiad – Athletics" (PDF). IAAF. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  3. ^ "IAAF to follow other sports with world ranking system for athletes". BBC Sport. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Olympic qualification period suspended until 1 December 2020". World Athletics. 6 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  5. ^ "The New Olympic Marathon Course Has Been Unveiled". Runners World. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.