Temperatures in Japan are rising to dangerous new heights. The heatwave has killed over a dozen people so far and is causing concern for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo for 2020 as the games will be during the notoriously hot summers of Japan.
Even though the games have operated in locations hotter or more humid than Japan, such as Beijing and Athen, the hot summers of Tokyo produce both smothering humidity and blistering heat. Often, this unpleasant combination can turn deadly.
The local government in Tokyo and officials of the Olympics are touting measures from solar-blocking paint on the roads to moveable misting stations to help eliminate some of the heat.
But some experts fear the efforts are insufficient, in a country where summer heat kills hundreds of people. Not to mention the tens of thousands hospitalized each year.
The Games will be from July 24 through August 9. During this time, temperatures can hit 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit) with humidity rising above 80 percent.
Professor of urban engineering at Tokyo University, Makoto Yokohari, said comparing the 2020 Summer Olympics to those in the past, this is most likely to be the most severe Games as far as considering heat conditions.
Summer Olympics Team Tries to Make Changes To Fight the Heat
The International Olympic Committee approved moving the marathon to 7.00 am. The men’s competitive walking changed schedule to begin even earlier.
Tetsuo Egawa, the senior director of operation strategy planning for the city of Tokyo’s 2020 organizing committee, is working on other anti-heat methods.
Sports held in non-stadium areas could have the most concern for athletes and spectators. Marathon, sailing, golf, and canoeing are a few examples of events where safety measures are going to be needed.
Heatstroke is the primary concern, especially among spectators not used to such heat conditions.
Egawa said he plans to have tents covering the lines at security gates. They are also attempting to limit the lines to twenty minutes long.
According to an official with TMG’s road management bureau, Susumu Matsushima, treatments have already happened to 116 kilometers of road. Mostly with the solar-blocking coating.
After studying the marathon route, Yokohari warns that athletes will be in dangerous conditions. Especially during the end of the race when they pass the Imperial Palace simply because there is no shade.
Even with the earlier start time for the marathon, Yokohari wants to see the route itself changed so runners can pass under shade towards the end of the race.
Planting trees for shade is impractical according to Yokohari with only two years to go. He even proposed moving the marathon to a cooler part in northern Japan.
Olympic planners, however, do not hold his concerns. While Tokyo residents may claim they’re used to the conditions, people rarely spend hours outside in the peak of August.