Athletes participating at the 2020 Olympics may have to brave Tokyo’s scourging heat, the hottest in over 120 years. As the 2020 Summer Games host begins its preparations, concerns arose as high temperatures, coupled with high humidity, have plagued the city during summer.
The 2020 Olympics has been scheduled to take place in July and August. Both months are the hottest in the country. This year’s summer months even put Tokyo at 38 degrees, while in Kochi Prefecture, the city of Shimanto peaked at 41 degrees. Should Tokyo host the summer games in 2020 with 38 degrees, it would be the hottest temperature in 120 years. Experts fear that it will be a threat to athletes as well as spectators. According to the Heat Index calculator of the U.S. National Weather Service, 38 degrees would actually feel like 63 degrees Celsius.
George Havenith, a professor of environment and ergonomics at the Loughborough University in London, warned that “it is unwise to plan an event in such extreme conditions.” The professor has been to Tokyo a number of times and has experienced summer in the capital. “There also is an increased risk for the spectators,” Havenith added. He also said that the 10-kilometre race and marathon, among other sports, would pose the highest risk for athletes. “The longer the event, typically the higher the risk of accumulation of heat in the body, with possible symptoms of heat exhaustion or even heatstroke in the worst case.”
According to Kate Hector, spokesperson of the University of Interscholastic League in Texas, manuals have been created and recommended to serve as guide for athletic teachers and coaches on how to conduct trainings during summer days. “The maximum length of any single practice session is three hours,” Hector said. She also reminded that the rules were created to “help prevent heat illness or heat related injuries.” Tadayuki Iwaya, a meteorologist at the Weather Caster Network, suggested that Tokyo could try “changing the times of events to cooler periods.”