Britain's Georgia Taylor-Brown (left) and Jessica Learmonth were disqualified as they crossed the finish line holding hands during a triathlon test event at Odaiba Marine Park, a venue for marathon swimming and triathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The top two finishers in an Olympic triathlon test event were disqualified after they held hands as they ran across the finish line in a race that had to be shortened because of searing heat in Tokyo.

Britain’s Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown grasped hands as they neared the finish, then raised them high as they crossed the line in a race that was reduced by half, to five kilometers, in high humidity and temperatures of around 90 degrees in Odaiba Marina Park. International Triathlon Union officials determined that the two had broken a rule that prohibits athletes from finishing “in a contrived tie situation where no effort to separate the finish times has been made.”

The third-place finisher, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, was moved up to first with a time of 1:40:19 in all three legs of the triathlon and 17:23 in the running portion. Italy’s Alice Betto was second and Britain’s Vicky Holland third.

Spain's Miriam Castillas Garcia (left) and France's Emilie Morier are treated by officials during high temperatures and humidity in an Olympic test triathlon. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Neither Learmonth nor Taylor-Brown explained the reason for their action in the competition, which British Triathlon officials had ruled would not count for Olympic qualification because of the shortened running portion. “The whole point of coming here was to check out the venue, check out the course and see the conditions,” Duffy told reporters (via Reuters).

Holland, a bronze medalist at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, would have earned an automatic spot for Tokyo under British Triathlon’s selection policy had the race covered the Olympic distance. Athletes will be chosen at a meeting later this year, according to the BBC.

“I really feel for Jess and Georgia because they raced exceptionally well today and I feel like they absolutely smashed it and deserved the first and second finish,” Duffy said. “I don’t know how British Triathlon will choose things now. I wouldn’t want to be a selector.”

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