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Olympics: Tokyo organizers may have lied about the weather

Either way, athletes are paying the price of Tokyo heat

All-Weather Training Area of J-Village National Training Centre in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
The All-Weather Training Area of J-Village National Training Centre where the venue of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay grand start ceremony is seen in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Olympians are battling the heat as the Games unfold.
Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press

The delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been a constant uphill battle.

First, there was an oyster plague, then the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Games. Add in the logistical nightmare of coordinating a massive event mid-pandemic along with the looming possibility of a last-minute cancellation and these Games are truly unlike any other.

Now athletes in Tokyo face another major challenge — one that organizers should have foreseen years ago — the heat, reported Yahoo News.

What’s the weather like in Tokyo?

Temperatures in Tokyo have reached the mid-to-high 90s with about 80% humidity.

  • The weather in Tokyo is “oppressive heat,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • “Humidity is brutal,” said Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, per CNN, “because it’s very hot and also very humid, so the hard courts absorb the heat, and it stays trapped in there. Not much wind, not much breeze.”
  • “I wasn’t enjoying it at all,” said Russian tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after her competition on Saturday, per Yahoo News.

To compensate for the heat, organizers have had to shift start times earlier in the day and provide athletes longer breaks. To keep cool, athletes have resorted to drinking slushies and wearing ice vests when possible, reported The Wall Street Journal.

What did the organizers say about Tokyo’s weather?

Tokyo is known for being hot and humid during the months of July and August. Regardless, Japan’s official proposal to host the 2020 Summer Olympics during these summer months stated that “meteorological conditions during the proposed Games-time would be reasonable,” per Yahoo News.

  • “With many days of mild and sunny weather, this period provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform their best,” the proposal said, per Yahoo News.
  • The 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics Games took place in October to avoid the peak temperatures, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After Japan won its Olympic bid in 2013, newspapers and other critics had concerns about the heat. When COVID-19 hit, these concerns fell to the side, reported The Wall Street Journal. Now, heat concerns are back on the priority list — just ask the athletes.

What does the heat mean for athletes?

Athletes, officials and volunteers fainted from the heat over the weekend, per Yahoo News.

  • Russian archer Svetlana Gomboeva fell unconscious from heatstroke on the first day of competition, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Numerous triathletes collapsed upon completing their race on Monday, reported Fox News.
  • The gold medal winner, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, vomited and collapsed after finishing, leaving the course in a wheelchair, per Fox News.

These Olympics may be the warmest in decades and nearing “dangerously high” temperatures, reported Vox.

  • Now, Tokyo’s weather forecast also has a typhoon to contend with, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which will present its own batch of issues.