sports

Test marathon gives Tokyo a taste of what to expect at 2020 Games

23 Comments
By Mari Saito and Kwiyeon Ha

Tokyo held a marathon on Sunday as a test case for whether organizers, athletes, and spectators can cope with sweltering temperatures expected during next year's Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Sunday's race featured tents equipped with mist machines for spectators. Officials handed out ice cubes and ice scarves to families waiting in the sun. At some of the rest stops officials said they also planned to give out plastic hand-held fans.

Runners were optimistic that the athletes would be able to deal with the heat during next year's Olympics, but some spectators expressed concerns about cheering runners in sweltering conditions.

"Yesterday it was cool, but near the end (of the race) the sun came out," said Rei Ohara, who collapsed after finishing third in the women's race.

"Then I felt the heat but the organizers gave us ice and water so I think it was a race that was easy to run for everyone."

Organizers have been sweating over how to protect athletes from heat stroke and keep spectators cool during Tokyo's notoriously hot and muggy summers.

Temperatures in Tokyo during July and August, when the city will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, commonly exceed 33 degrees Celsius, with high humidity adding to people's discomfort.

On Sunday, temperatures were as high as 30 degrees, but hovered around 22 degrees in shaded tents next to the road.

"We will analyse all of the know-how and measurements we were able to gain today to improve our measures to combat heat," Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike told reporters.

Organizers plan to start the marathons at 6 a.m. next year to avoid midday heat, with major roads on much of the 42-km course painted with a resin that the organizer say will reflect infrared rays to cut temperatures as much as eight degrees Celsius.

Sunday's test race began at around 8:50 a.m. for men and 9:10 a.m. for women.

Last month, heat concerns prompted the International Triathlon Union to shorten the distance of the run segment in a qualifying event in Tokyo for the July 24-Aug. 9 Olympics.

Hideo Nakatani and his wife Kuniko had traveled from their neighborhood in Machida in Tokyo to cheer on the runners in the marathon Sunday morning.

Both are avid runners and worried that Tokyo's summer temperatures might affect the runners next year.

"I know the actual event will be held earlier in the day next year but it's still going to be humid and really hot," said 66-year-old Hideo, who wore a hat, sunglasses and iced scarf around his neck.

"We will probably have to be really prepared for the sun when we come as spectators next year."

Heat was not a problem last time Tokyo hosted the games in 1964 because it opened in October. Since 1976, however, most summer games in the northern hemisphere have been held in the middle of summer to fit with global broadcasting schedules.

At a beach volleyball test event in July the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT), which factors in temperature, humidity, wind speed and solar radiation, as rising as high as 31.7, exceeded 31, a threshold at which authorities urge citizens against exercise.

The top two finishers in Sunday's race won spots at next year's Summer Games. In the men's race Shogo Nakamura came first ahead of Yuma Hattori. Honami Maeda won the women's race with Ayuko Suzuki coming in second.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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It seems foreign runners are not participating. It is the foreign runners that must be tested about the heat.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Hmmm - You cannot use this as a test for what it will be like in the actual Olympics. The marathon will be over 1 month earlier in the year and temperatures/humidity will be much much higher...

17 ( +19 / -2 )

These Olympics should be held in January. That's when Tokyo has "many days of mild and sunny weather". And by the way they have the annual Tokyo Marathon in February or early March, as it should be.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

September is not August.

They can try all they can, shade is the only thing to increase comfort in the long run. But not enough for some runners and spectators.

My grandma would die within an hour.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Expect to see lots of people unconscious on the ground next year...,

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Organizers have been sweating over how to protect athletes from heat stroke and keep spectators cool during Tokyo's notoriously hot and muggy summers.

Give it a break here, really! Childish writing about a very serious issue! Not to mention that it's well over a month later and typically Tokyo starts cooling down in Sept anyway!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Tokyo held a marathon on Sunday as a test case for whether organizers, athletes, and spectators can cope with sweltering temperatures expected during next year's Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

There us a huge difference between temps in early August to mid-September. Temps today barely touched 30’ and the humidity was very low. Early August the temps are mid to high 30’s with 70-80% humidity. That is not meaningful test at all. People will die in the August games never year, both spectators and athletes.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Yeah, wait a minute...The Olympics have been moved to mid September??

As stated above, completely different weather conditions now!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If it is very hot then people from the African continent will win. It will be difficult for the northern people.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The reason there were only Japanese in this race was because this race qualified as an Olympic Trials race. Two people from this race qualified for the Olympics. Osaku will supposedly make the 3rd spot if no-one breaks his time qualifying time(If I understood what was explained to me).

Today's temperature was totally doable, plus there was a nice cooling breeze. It wasn't as humid as a typical July/August day. Definitely warmer than it was forecasted to be though.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

If they were really serious about a "real test" the marathon should have been held on the actual date the Olympic marathon. Everyone knows it's going to be too hot. Test give me a break!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A "test" in mid-September, when the temperature and humidity have dropped, is somehow supposed to show how things will be when the Olympics are held at the end of July and into August, when it was 38 degrees and 95% or so humidity? TIJ

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It's going to be so funny to see what happens next year

honestly what were they thinking

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hello people, that’s why the race started later in the day so the temperature would be similar to that of August at 6am. Think about it before commenting plz..

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

I am totally against this sort of events held in the middle of the city, with everybody held hostage and restricted in their movements for more than half a day, without flexibility for daily needs. People have a life to get on with and Tokyo is not a provincial town where everything stops in the weekend. These suckers do not let you even cross the street independently if there are athletes coming or not. I had endless fight with police officers in the past for that.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Wonderful. Here we see again the great Japanese tradition of putting on a pantomime of something so we can pretend we are prepared.

Run on a mild day - look! It's OK! There is running in mid-September - please refrain from remembering what it was like six weeks ago, which are the real conditions that people will die in next year.

We ran a disater drill two weeks ago with our Divine Leader Abe in overalls, so please don't think about the hundreds of families in Chiba still without power or transport links a full week after Typhoon 15.

And don't get me started on preparations for if a lion escapes from its enclosure:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtM281gVWNM

The Noh drama must be performed. Busy doing nothing is the same thing as preparation.

People are going to die in droves at next year's Olympics.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@Sergey - If it is very hot then people from the African continent will win. It will be difficult for the northern people.

What an absolutely ridiculous comment! Africa is huge and covers many climates. How about the competitors from Spain or southern Europe? How about competitors from other southern Asian countries? How about competitors from Australia? If you really want to split hairs over which country's people will have an advantage, it would be the Japanese have the advantage due to be ing to train in the sultry conditions of early August.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What was the purpose of this "test"?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If it was a genuine Olympic test it would have been held at the same week as the real marathon next year.

More fudging the issue.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Organizers have been sweating over how to protect athletes from heat stroke

I agree. When spectators collapse in the olympics, organisers will be trying to jog their memory about what went wrong.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hello people, that’s why the race started later in the day so the temperature would be similar to that of August at 6am. Think about it before commenting plz..

It isnt just about the temperatures, think about that when commenting plz!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It’s funny how this article repeatedly refers to the race as a “test marathon”, but the Japanese-language news on TV refers to it as an Olympic qualifying race without any reference to a “test”.

The top two finishers in Sunday's race won spots at next year's Summer Games.

The article does give the qualifiers a brief mention at the end of the article. Could it be that the main purpose of this race was Olympic qualification and NOT to test runners in weather conditions?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It may be difficult for the spectators but trained athletes should be able to deal with all conditions. Especially in the Marathon event that was inspired by Greek messengers from over 2000 years ago. They were on call to run any distance in all conditions with obviously the first priority to deliver the message and, if the situation was urgent, the next priority being to get there as soon as possible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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