British triathletes Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown were disqualified for holding hands as they crossed the finish line together Thursday at an Olympic qualifying event in Tokyo ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games.
Learmonth and Taylor-Brown finished first and second in the race initially, but organizers determined they broke the rules for their gesture of teamwork. The International Triathlon Union (ITU) rules state that athletes must not “finish in a contrived tie situation where no effort to separate the finish times has been made.”
Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who finished third behind the British pair, was elevated to first place. Italy’s Alice Betto finished second and Britain’s Vicky Holland rounded out the podium in third.
Despite first and second place finishes being stripped away from Great Britain, the country initially had all five of its runners finish in the top 11.
Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, left, and Jessica Learmonth hold hands as they cross the finish line during a women’s triathlon test event at Odaiba Marine Park, a venue for marathon swimming and triathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Tokyo. (Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)
The test event, held in Tokyo in the same vicinity as next summer’s Olympics, had its running distance cut in half by the ITU shortly before the race due to concerns for the athletes’ health over the extreme heat in Tokyo. Instead of a 10-kilometer portion, it was a 5K. The same remedy is expected to take place in Tokyo.
Hot temperatures have become a major concern for Tokyo Olympics organizers in recent months. Dangerous temperatures have killed at least 57 people across Japan since late July, illustrating the possible health threat to the athletes.