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Tokyo Olympians battle with heat

Posted July. 22, 2021 07:21,   

Updated July. 22, 2021 07:21


“I expected the temperature to be around 30 degrees Celsius, but it feels like above 40 degrees Celsius,” Rory Gibbs, a national athlete for the British rowing team, said during training in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday. Athletes competing for the Tokyo Olympics are challenged with the COVID-19 risks and the sweltering heat, the most extreme in Olympic history.

Leading outlets such as the Guardian and Sky Sports forecasted the Tokyo Olympics to be the hottest games in Olympic history. Based on data from the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Guardian predicted daily temperature from July 23 to August 8 would go up from 33.7 to 38.1 degrees Celsius, which was derived based on daily highest temperatures in Tokyo for the past 20 years. The figures are the highest in Olympic history since the Montreal Olympics in 1976.  

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics was held in October (October 10-24) instead of the summer season. The Seoul Olympics in 1988 was also held from September 17 after the summer season. According to Kyoto News, the Japanese government forbid outdoor sports from end July to early August last year (the same period during the Olympics this year) 13 times. Japan issues the warning when the body temperature exceeds 31 degrees Celsius, which recorded 32 degrees at Tokyo on Tuesday.  

The Tokyo Olympic Committee announced that it has prepared measures such as fans and cooling tents to protect the athletes. Marathon and race-walking competitions will take place in Sapporo, the northernmost region in Japan, where the temperature is cooler. Triathlons and other certain sports events have been adjusted to early morning hours. Archery, hockey, beach volleyball and other outdoor sports, however, are still exposed to the sweltering heat. Beach volleyball athletes have said that the sand was too hot.

“The problem is that not only the temperature but also the humidity is suffocatingly high,” said Yokohari Makoto, a professor at Tokyo University and advisor for the Olympics committee. “With both factors combined, this could create a nightmare.”

Dong-Wook Kim creating@donga.com