A boy experiences a large-scale misting tower dispensing ultra-fine mist during a proving test of heat countermeasures for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo last year. Photo: REUTERS file

Summer heat could be a nightmare for Tokyo Games: 2020 adviser

By Jack Tarrant

Even if the COVID-19 pandemic does not prevent the Tokyo Olympics from going ahead next year, the blazing summer heat in the Japanese capital could still make the Games 'a nightmare', an advisor to the organizing committee has told Reuters.

Although Japan enjoyed a mild early summer this year, Makoto Yokohari said that the highest temperatures in a typical August -- when most of the delayed Games will take place -- could mean a dangerous mix of heat and humidity.

Yokohari, a professor of environment and urban planning at the University of Tokyo, analyzed data going back to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and said he found that in the period where the Games were held, Tokyo had the highest average temperature and precipitation of any host city.

"When it comes to heat stress or heatstroke, the problem is not only the temperature but also the humidity as well," Yokohari told Reuters on Tuesday. "When you can combine these two ... Tokyo is the worst in history."

Temperatures this July, when the Olympics were due to start before the new coronavirus forced a postponement, were significantly cooler than the five-year average for the month of 30.4 degrees Celsius.

With August averaging highs of 30.8 degrees Celsius and lows of 24.2 over the 30 years over his study, Yokohari said organizers should be prepared for the worst.

"The temperature was not that high, so if we could have this kind of weather next year, maybe it will be okay," Yokohari added. "But, if the weather turns out like right now, or like last year, then it is going to be a nightmare."


The main reason for this year's cooler July temperatures was the extended rainy season, which is often followed by the hottest time of year.

Yokohari said this was very unusual and that the rainy season in Tokyo habitually ended on or around July 20 -- three days before the Olympics are due to start.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympic were held in October but for various reasons, including television deals and to avoid a clash with other major events, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wanted the July dates kept even after postponement.

"If we could plan this postponed Olympic Games in November, then I am sure the situation could be much, much better but unfortunately the IOC said 'no, no, it is going to be in July,'" said Yokohari. "Having said that, I am afraid that there isn’t going to be much we can do, especially for spectators."

Last year, in response to a particularly hot summer, the IOC acknowledged the issues Tokyo's heat would bring and moved the marathon and race walk events to the cooler northern city of Sapporo.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, battling the heat was the major challenge for Games organizers.

"Tokyo 2020 and all the Japanese organizers are not optimistic about the summer weather in Tokyo at all," Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said on Tuesday. "We will be working closely together with the key delivery partners ... to combat heat weather."

With temperatures rising around the globe, Yokohari said the Tokyo Games could be a "game changer".

"I would say that Tokyo should be a game changer of the whole story because, in the future, no cities in the world will be able to host Olympic Games in summer anymore," he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held in October. With the record heat, this seems like a good idea for the 2020 Olympics too. This time don't buckle to the pressure of US broadcasters who don't want the Olympics to interfere with their Autumn sports broadcasts like football or basketball. I can see the 2020 Olympics being known for high athlete fatalities.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

And this is how Tokyo's official bid for the Olympics described Tokyo's weather in July and August:

“With many days of mild and sunny weather, this period provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform at their best.”

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Did no one who organised this even "Think?", having coolbiz and AC set at 28 might help in a meeting but try doing sports outside. Not everyone has the Gambatte spirit to the point or beyond danger.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

High temperatures and humidity in the Tokyo summer pose a problem?

This is amazing to know!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Why didn’t they kill 2 birds with 1 stone and postpone the games to October 2021?

Now we have to put up with another dozen articles about how it’s going to be too hot for the Olympics again

Deja vu

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Stop talking about this already. The idiots are going ahead with this fiasco no matter what, so unfortunately the hospitals and other first responders had better brush up on foreign languages and figure out how they're going to treat the potential mass casualty.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

When they postponed these games to next year, they had a golden opportunity to move it to a cooler month, but they didn't. Can't feel much sympathy for these dummies.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I can foresee a lot of this years news articles being recycled next year

5 ( +5 / -0 )

nothing to do with people or their health, just corporate cashola

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Wow, it's like deja vu, since almost everyone on planet Earth knew this about this a long time ago. Next, they'll be telling is about a new coronavirus that started in Wuhan . . .

2 ( +2 / -0 )


@Tokyo Olympic Committee

4 ( +4 / -0 )

With Shinzokun gone why even bother? Wasn't this to be his crown jewel? And Article 9 being trashed his second? Seems there will be little interest now the "little" emperor is gone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Summer heat could be a nightmare for Tokyo Games: 2020 adviser.

No! When did they come to this brilliant conclusion?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Well, duh!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ah this harkens back to a more innocent pre-pandemic era when we spent so much time pointing out the lunacy of holding the games at the height of Tokyo's heat and humidity. If we only knew then that now, more than a month after the games were scheduled to end we'd STILL be having this idiotic debate.....

What a world.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not sure why they always play it up like Tokyo is so hot. Many hotter places on the planet such as Africa, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia etc. Its akin to the exagerating claims of being the only country with 4 seasons

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Is this '2020 adviser', Professor Yokohari, actually paid to come up with such brilliant deductive reasoning? He'll be sticking his neck out. There is a silent tunnel vision majority on the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Comittee who still think that excess heat will be a positive advantage for Japanese athletes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

News stories upon news stories up until 2020 that kept warning us about the hideous heat that will hit us during the 2020 games. Then after Olympics were supposed to happen, media came out saying actually the weather was mild so too bad the Olympics didn't happen. Are we going to be put through this again?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Heat in Tokyo in July - August?? What a complete surprise!! This fella must get a Nobel for his major discovery!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Summer heat could be a nightmare for Tokyo Games

Wow, recycled news stories? We didn't have enough conversation about this before? I'd say this were deja vu, but can't because now they are just being redundant.

With temperatures rising around the globe, Yokohari said the Tokyo Games could be a "game changer".

"I would say that Tokyo should be a game changer of the whole story because, in the future, no cities in the world will be able to host Olympic Games in summer anymore," he said.

Maybe, or just, you know stop calling it the "summer" olympics and just hold it in October or November, when temperatures are more tolerable. But I guess that would be too logical, and wouldn't make money for the TV networks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have been reading for years about the summer heat in Tokyo without realizing what all the buzz was about, so I added Tokyo to the weather app on my phone. Now I could see how bad things are there. Goodness gracious, people, taking into account the humidity, the "feels like" temp in Tokyo is often over 40 degrees Celsius! That is terrible!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Although it would be nice to see the IOC roast in their suits out in front of the stadium in the middle of August, it's the idiots who put Tokyo's candidacy forward who should be to blame, knowing full well what the weather's like there.

Yet another perfect example of what happens when politics get in the way of common sense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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