Japan Today

Gov't studying ways to prevent heatstroke, cool down streets during 2020 Olympics


Concerned about athletes and spectators suffering heatstroke during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Environment Ministry plans to install monitoring devices this month in an experiment to measure the temperature and humidity at the planned stadium site and marathon route in an effort to understand the risk of heatstroke during the Olympics which will run for two weeks from July 25, 2020.

The devices will not only measure temperature and humidity, but also sunlight intensity reflected from road surfaces and sidewalks, Sankei Shimbun reported. The ministry said the devices will issue four levels of heatstroke danger: “caution”, “vigilance”, “strict vigilance” and “danger.”

The measuring instruments will be set up on Aug 19 at three sites near the outer garden of the Imperial Palace, which will be part of the marathon course. By next year, in addition to the Olympic Stadium, a total of 10 locations will have measuring instruments installed to collect further data.

The Environment Ministry is also working with a panel set up last year by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to come up with ways to cool down streets and sidewalks during the Tokyo Olympics. The panel is headed by Tetsuo Yai, professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology's Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

Ever since Tokyo was awarded the Games, there has been criticism over the fact that they will be held during the brutal Japanese summer months, sparking a great deal of worry for participants and spectators alike, who, while outdoors for extended periods of time, may suffer from heatstroke.

A land ministry report said that the surface temperature of roads and sidewalks at this time of year could easily rise to 60 degrees C and recommends that water-retention technology be used lower the temperature.

The ministry is looking at installing special water sprinkler systems on the tracks and other areas in an effort to fight the scorching heat. The ministry is also proposing the use of misting systems and road pavement material that absorbs large amounts of rain water. In theory, the water would then evaporate into the atmosphere, forcing the temperature to drop significantly, thus further preventing heatstroke and other ailments during the Games.

Other proposals being considered are planting more trees along main streets and creating shaded areas on sidewalks.

Tokyo last hosted the summer Olympics in 1964 -- from Oct 10-24, when temperatures were much cooler.

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I can write the conclusion to this expensive Environment Ministry study right now:

"Hold the Games in October. What were you thinking with July and August?"

11 ( +11 / -0 )

October is too late for a Summer Olympics. I think Sept 1-15 would have been the best for Tokyo.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Nothing new, Govt keeps studying...studying how to spend public money, this time in the name of Olympics 2020 !

8 ( +10 / -2 )

It's ridiculous to hold the Olympics in August in Japan. It's way too hot. There is precedent for September and even October Olympics. The 2000 Olympics in Sydney were in September, as were the '88 Olympics in Seoul.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

The 1988 Seoul Olympics (comparable to Tokyo in terms of climate) were held in late September. Why can't Tokyo do likewise?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I was absolutely flabbergasted when I read that they're going to be held in Aug.

Think about how hot and humid it is right now. That's when these Olympics are going to be held.

Do you really want to be standing for long periods outside in this?

If they use this water sprinkling system it's going to cause a lot of hot humid air to rise.

Nothing wrong with holding them in Oct like they did last time. They were such a successful Olympic games.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yes, just move the dates to October, like 1964. What's the problem? There are four more years to plan this.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

honest Abe could approach Mr Burns to buy his sun blocking device.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

so they install the measuring devices in the only place that has huge body of water around it and is basically a garden, not at the most route part which is on normal street with huge glass reflecting buildings around ... such a brilliant logic...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

More wasting of public money, just install water sprayers like at Disneyland and be done with it.... we all know Japanese summer's are hot and thousands of people go to hospital each year with heatstroke.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yes, just move the dates to October, like 1964. What's the problem?

American network televisions which pay a lot to the Olympic committee are the problem. October is a month for American football.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

summer vacation and professional sports leagues play a big factor. summer is usually "off season" so athletes who are representing their country won't have scheduling conflict issues. similar to the middle east world cup to be moved to december problem. organisers have 4 years to sort this out. i don't see why this can't happen. they can also save so much money on aircon electricity bill and this stupid experiment they are planning to do

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Move the games to mid September...and stopping trimming the trees so much.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

As CH3CHO stated, in America, in October, NFL opens and MLB will have the World Series. Also in europe, they have soccer in October. As such, there remains only sweltering summer which do not overlap other major sports events. Japan also is blamed accepting it knowing that Tokyo is crazy hot in August. IOC and Japan Olympic Committee do not think about conditions of players at all.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

How about thinking more long term and having a committed effective policy of helping to slow down global warming? Not the business as usual appreoach of blindly gunning for economic growth for ego and lining friend's and corpart Japan's pockets.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"American network televisions which pay a lot to the Olympic committee are the problem"

Am afraid you're right CH3. Which means most outdoor sports will take place early morning and late evening (after 8pm local when us east coast wakes up) to please us audiences. I don't think we will see outdoor comps at 2 or 5pm though.

Re why early august rather than sept perhaps organisers thought rain would/could be more of an issue in sept? Plus many pro sports (football, basket, volley etc) domestic comps run from Sept to May and with the money involved in 2016-2020 i guess it's even harder than before to run major international comps outside the june-august window.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sapporo should have been the Japan entry.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I can only imagine Tokyo Olympics to be a repeat of 'Hotlanta' Olympics in heat, humidity, over commercialization and the transportation nightmare. Hopefully not the bomb.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why are they only doing it for the Olympics? Shouldn't it be a normal part of the infrastructure for all people?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Whhile I agree that it would have been better to hold these games in late September/early October, even if that is no longer possible I'm sure they'll still be a success - see here:


Holding outdoor events later in the evenings is a good solution, as is planting millions of trees in the streets (or as many as possible!). The greening of Tokyo's streets will be very welcome anyway, and an excellent 'legacy' for the games.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Plant more trees as a great idea and would be a beneficial long term legency of the Olympics.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The irony being the majority of people visiting Japan will have the knowledge and common sense to take measures to prevent heatstroke.

I'd suggest that the Japanese Government should 'study ways to prevent heatstroke, cool down streets' NOW, as we keep reading that thousands of Japanese people are affected by it every single week during summer.

(For all those people commenting that September or October would be too late for a 'summer' Olympics, consider that in Brazil it is technically winter now. It'd be no problem to have it start 6 weeks later in Tokyo.)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

How about studying ways to build a d@nged stadium

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was expecting the Environment Ministry to propose an unnecessary boondoggle like putting huge blocks of ice around Tokyo. I'm actually surprised.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I regularly walk around at all times of the day and need to drink vast amounts of water to prevent collapse. The Tokyo Olympics will see large numbers of people suffer from dehydration

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah........good luck with that Tokyo

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Painting the roads & sidewalks white might help a bit as well.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Do something like Universal Studio in Florida, they have places where they spray mist of water. People can just go there and have some cold water spray onto them if they do not mind getting a bit wet. I guess, regardless, you will be wet anyway (your own sweat or mist of water).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They'll study the problem for a while, holding meetings at least twice a day. Then they'll take a day or two to write preliminary reports. They'll meetings to discuss the reports before sending them. Hold more meetings to consider the impact from the reports they are "eyeing." Hold further meetings to discuss the timing of sending the reports. Hold more meetings to discuss revisions to the reports in line with the discussions from the meetings. Hold meetings to discuss whether or not to act on the revisions. Appoint another couple of committees to work on items that came up from the discussion on the potential revisions.

Then it'll be time for a summer recess for a couple of months.

Back to work with a week long refresher conference to get back into the swing of things. Feasibility studies, more meetings, more reports.

And then someone will point out that the Olympics have come and gone. And the various committees get adsorbed into government offices.

Anyone wonder why consumption tax is going up?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I didn't know that only the US broadcasts the Olympics...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If the kids can play baseball in August so can everyone else. It's too much trouble めんどくさい for Japanese to change the dates.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Solution: Have it in winter.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The constant chirping of cicadas will fill the air with new trees planted all around as spectators and athletes look for ways to keep cool. Wonder what the number of indoor and outdoor events there are. Does anyone know?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Conclusion...(Best solution) Change the dates, (Second Best) Get rid of Abe.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hold some of the events in cooler surrounding places, like the Alps, Minakami or Fuji Lakes area. You can possibly cool a stadium or a velodrome but you can't cool an entire city. Burdening the entire Olympics on one city is an antiquated idea.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why are they only doing it for the Olympics? Shouldn't it be a normal part of the infrastructure for all people?

Because the Japanese politicians care more about their "international reputation" than they care about the people of Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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