The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo can’t seem to catch a break. In addition to protests ahead of the games and concerns about COVID-19 as they began, extreme weather conditions are also forcing some events to be moved or rescheduled for safety reasons. Intense summer heat was already creating problems, and now, with typhoon season peaking, tropical storms are getting a little close for comfort.
As NBC News reported earlier this week, high temperatures and high humidity forced rugby matches, mountain biking competitions, and track and field events to be rescheduled. As Reuters reported a few days ago, a Russian archer named Svetlana Gomboeva collapsed in the heat, prompting staff and teammates to use ice bags to cool her before she was carried out of the arena on a stretcher. She remained committed to competing moving forward, saying, “I feel okay, my head hurts a lot. I can and I will shoot!”
“It turns out that she couldn’t stand a whole day out in the heat,” coach Stanislav Popov told reporters, according to Reuters. “This is the first time I remember this happening. In Vladivostok, where we were training before this, the weather was similar. But humidity played a role here.”
Some events, the marathon and walking races, were already moved to another city in Japan known for its cooler climate, as the Guardian reported in 2019, due to concerns about Tokyo’s notably intense conditions typical to this time of year. The Guardian reported last week that some beach volleyball players were finding the sand too hot to handle.
As the New York Times reported in 2019, heat in Japan this time of year can be debilitating or even deadly, which is why the last summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo (in 1964) were moved to October. Even if area temperatures are just on par with figures typical for this time of year in Japan, the Times and Guardian both noted, this could be the hottest Olympics ever.
Not everyone is upset, though. Norweigan triathlete Kristian Blummenfelt, who reportedly vomited after crossing the finish line to win gold, told Reuters he actually wished it had been hotter to make the most of his heat-preparation training.
Tokyo may get some rain on Tuesday. As the Washington Post reported, a tropical storm named Nepartek will skirt north of the Olympic host city, though some events were already impacted. According to the AP, archery, rowing, and sailing adjusted their schedules to account for the storm, but surfers were hopeful it could actually improve conditions as long as it doesn’t hit the beach where they compete directly.
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