A golfer is seen at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. Photo: REUTERS file
olympics

Olympic golf must be moved because of heat, politician tells IOC

51 Comments
By Andrew Both

A well-known Japanese politician has called on Olympic chief Thomas Bach to move the Tokyo 2020 golf tournaments to somewhere cooler, saying keeping them in their planned location would be irresponsible because of the heat.

The stifling heat of the Tokyo summer has already prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to insist organizers move next year's marathon and race walking events to the cooler northern island of Hokkaido.

Shigefumi Matsuzawa, a member of Japan's House of Councillors, has now written to IOC President Bach outlining his concerns about Kasumigaseki Golf Club, which is located inland in Saitama Prefecture, about 50 km northwest of central Tokyo.

"The issue of measures against extremely hot weather is an especially serious problem," Matsuzawa wrote in an Oct 25 letter obtained by Reuters.

"In 2017, a research team from Tokyo Metropolitan University published a paper ... with observation results indicating that Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture, where Kasumigaseki is located, is the hottest place in Japan.

"The period between late July and early August is the hottest period in Japan's summer, and so it is no exaggeration to say that forcibly holding an outdoor sporting event in the hottest region of Japan at this time is extremely irresponsible."

The IOC's decision to insist on the marathon and walk events being moved north has infuriated Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike, who said the capital city had invested a lot of time and money into preparing anti-heat measures.

When contacted on Thursday, Tokyo 2020 organizers were unable to immediately offer comment on the letter.

Matsuzawa said his concern was not only for the golfers but for volunteers and spectators without clubhouse access who, he wrote, would have nowhere to escape the heat and humidity.

The average temperature over the past three years during the scheduled competition dates -- July 30 to Aug 2 for men and Aug 5 to 8 for women -- had been 31.7 degrees Celsius, he wrote.

Extrapolating from past figures, Matsuzawa estimated that up to 1,250 people could suffer from heat stroke during the eight days of the golf competition.

"Ambulances and hospitals will be unable to cope and with heat stroke patients collapsing one after the other, the possibility of fatalities occurring cannot be ruled out," he added.

Matsuzawa, who was governor of Kanagawa Prefecture from 2003-2011, recommended moving the golf to Wakasu Golf Links adjacent to Tokyo Bay, where temperatures at that time of year are on average four degrees Celsius cooler than Kasumigaseki.

Alternatively, he wrote, the central mountain regions of Hakone and Nagano, or even Hokkaido, would also be suitable.

This is not the first controversy involving the Kasumigaseki Golf Club.

The club scrapped its male-only membership in March 2017 after the IOC stated it would find another venue if the policy remained in place. The club said in May 2018 that it had granted three women full memberships.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played a round of golf at the club in November 2017.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

51 Comments
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Talk about stirring the pot here! Damn!

15 ( +17 / -2 )

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played a round of golf at the club in November 2017.

Good enough reason on it's own to move it!

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Ahh, yes, once you open Pandora's Box....

Next will be the soccer matches.

Also, surfing, since decent surf in Chiba is really dependent on typhoons.

What a farce!!!

16 ( +17 / -1 )

People have been expressing concern since before Japan was awarded the privilege of holding the 2020 Olympics. Why are these "professionals" just now making the move with only 9 months to go and billions (JPY) of tax payers money already spent!!!! I only hope that IOC will start to listen to the average person and do more research and stop thinking with their wallets!!

9 ( +12 / -3 )

People have been expressing concern since before Japan was awarded the privilege of holding the 2020 Olympics. 

Don't know why people think it's a privilege to host the Olympics. There are relatively few countries or cities in the world that can pull it off.

It's just an arrogant show, in my opinion, that these cities compete to host these games, that end up costing billions upon billions of taxpayers money to host.

I would rather see them held in 2 locations, one for summer and one for winter, and let the world assist in the building and upkeep. Be a hell of a lot cheaper, and save all this drama every 2 years!

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Maybe he has an ulterior motive. This golf course has now received tons of public money to get ready for the Olympics, so now he proposes another golf course that will need to be funded to get ready for the Olympics. Just saying, why now?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

This could get interesting. I hope for the sake of the athletes that the heat is properly taken into account and venues changed for their safety. That being said, I hope nothing comes to my prefecture. I don’t want to give even 1 yen more than I have to to the greedy IOC and JOC. Im boycotting the whole thing until the put people over profit.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Further evidence of the JOC's incompetence.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

How did golf even become an Olympic 'sport' in the first place?

25 ( +27 / -2 )

If that is the case, why don't they vote to move the whole Olympics to north and south Korea. I am sure they will host it with no problems.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

On the day of the marathon and golf competition the temperature will probably end up being 22C in Tokyo.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Rather, it’s the IOC’s incompetence to have decided to hold the Games in the sweltering heat of August just to sell TV rights to major US broadcasters.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Clearly this guy hates Koike, why doesn't someone suggest we move it to the North pole?

Clearly the better move would have been to move the entire games to October!!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Really move golf? People play golf in the heat all the time. A marathon is a much different thing. People are expelling a great amount of energy over a long period of time. The risk of heat exhaustion is great. Furthermore, the risk of dehydration is great even without the heat.

This person that wants to move the golf match is doing it for personal reasons.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

MarkXToday 07:20 am JST

Maybe he has an ulterior motive.

Who knows what prompted this? Shigefumi Matsuzawa is close to Shintaro Ishihara and once claimed in an election speech that "foreigners are a bunch of sneaky thieves".

However, I'm sure that he's just concerned about the health and safety of all the golfers who will play and all the spectators who will watch the competition. It's definitely nothing to do with stirring up trouble for Tokyo and Ms. Koike and getting his name in the media again. No way.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

"The period between late July and early August is the hottest period in Japan's summer, and so it is no exaggeration to say that forcibly holding an outdoor sporting event in the hottest region of Japan at this time is extremely irresponsible."

This statement applies to the whole games, not just one event.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Looks like they're coming out with sharpened blades for Koike now.

Matsuzawa had all this time to comeout with his gripes, but wait until now. His agenda is not sport, it's ego.

I was at the Thailand MotoGP recently, it was 33C, track temp was 49C, the competitors were in leather suit (probably for 2-3 hours all up). No drama there.

This is a battle of ego.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What about track & field?

How about soccer?

Basically all outdoor sports should move away from Tokyo, keeping only indoor sports.

And yes, please do move water sports away from Odaiba, that brown water is not fit for swimming.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

A big trouble.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The organizational 'planning' of the Tokyo Olympics is developping into a much more exciting spectator sport than the games themselves.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

How on earth is golf even an Olympic sport?!

11 ( +13 / -2 )

I see two possibilities: 1) political rivals want to embarrass Koike 2) they are trying to spread the money around.

If the IOC changes venues then that money will not be refunded, nor will the renovations stop if they are too far along. More money would then be allocated for the new location lining more pockets of the Japanese swamp.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Olympics awarded to Tokyo in Sep 2013.

Nov 2019 - 9 months before the start - sudden, last second requests and orders for changes bust out.

The IOC, JOC, government and media all irresponsible.

It's hard to listen to these morons anymore. All this heat information was known prior to 2013.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How on earth is golf even an Olympic sport?!

@No Business

I ask that question all the time about many Olympic sports. You have archery and real rifles. Why is shooting an air pistol an Olympic sport?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I don't know whether to laugh or cry...……… so I will do both!!! LOL!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why is shooting an air pistol an Olympic sport?

This is why it's scandalous that darts isn't an Olympic sport

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@ClippetyClop

And the French want boules at Paris 2024!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

And the French want boules at Paris 2024!

I can think of nothing better than an Olympic sport played by old French fellows smoking Gitanes and drinking Ricard in the park.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

People last year: Having the Olympics in Tokyo is a terrible idea! We'll be overrun with tourists!

People now: I can't believe they're moving "Tokyo Olympics" events to other parts of Japan!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The whole heat thing is wildly exaggerated, especially for golf. I have cycled 140 km and more on some of the hottest days in the past three years. I will be 73 in nine days. Competition running on hot summer days might be a problem, but golf?

And, like some other posters, I find it hard to see golf as an Olympic sport in the first place.

Finally, as a citizen, taxpayer, and Tokyo resident, I'd be happy to see the entire Olympics moved somewhere else, preferably to another country.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

31.7C is not that hot.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Remember that heat stroke in the Japanese summer occurs for example among students playing baseball on the playground, farmers standing or squatting in the fields, even people in their own homes. Not hard to imagine crowds on a gold course suffering too, especially if they have been 'encouraged' to come and support the events.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Get the IOC to pay. If they won't, do all the events according to plan.

If anyone thinks the marathon should be moved with Japan paying, please list 300M USD worth of schools, hospitals, day care centers, sports facilities that should be closed to pay for it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

2024 Paris Olympics, 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.,,,,,IOC would change some events suddenly just like Tokyo because too hot there.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture, where Kasumigaseki is located, is the hottest place in Japan.

This is so funny. But really golf is not like running 26 miles without stopping in a marathon. These guys can take a swing then get back in the air conditioned golf cart and have a cold one.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Quote from article: Matsuzawa said his concern was not only for the golfers but for volunteers and spectators without clubhouse access who, he wrote, would have nowhere to escape the heat and humidity.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Changing the date of the Olympics would solve all these heat problems, but then you would have typhoon problems. Anyways, apparently the politician who wants to move the golf owns the course he is proposing to move it to. Thats how politics work in Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Told you, told you, told you!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

what an idiot trying to compare a marathon runner with a golfer, body temperatures and levels of energy generated by the two are vastly different. golfer can take a cool drink almost anytime stand under a unbrella while walking down the fairway. The whole point of the move was for athletes safety marathon runners exert the most energy over the longest period of time 2hr+ with no break, makes it very difficult to regulate body temperature, do it during a very hot humid day and your looking for disaster. But hey lets not talk about the runners welfare just that Tokyo people shouldnt miss out on the marathon, because well Tokyo.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

, please list 300M USD worth of schools, hospitals, day care centers, sports facilities that should be closed to pay for it.

if anybody thinks that it actually cost that much to host a marathon without padding the books substantially then sorry you really dont understand political grandstanding

3 ( +3 / -0 )

On the day of the marathon and golf competition the temperature will probably end up being 22C in Tokyo.

and what if its 36C if marathon runners collapse or die from heat exhaustion is Tokyo going to take responsibility for this are they going to compensate those runners for forcing them to run in this heat!?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

and what if its 36C if marathon runners collapse or die from heat exhaustion is Tokyo going to take responsibility for this are they going to compensate those runners for forcing them to run in this heat!?

mere speculation, no one really knows the weather in advance, no one really knows how athletes manage their game....opponents could equally speculate and say given security efforts are split between Tokyo and Hokkaido (and diluted, complicated), who's going to compensate victims of terrorism (in Tokyo, Hokkaido, or anywhere in between)?

IMHO, the bigger issue is 'can they afford to move it, AND can they still secure the event to the same standard as before. You can bet your last dime, nefarious forces will be looking at this in detail, especially given the timeframes involved.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@AscissorToday 09:53 am JST

And the French want boules at Paris 2024!

Sounds like a great idea, it's just summer curling !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Golf...one of the grueling endurance sports!

Before making any decisions on this, can someone check this politician's ties to certain other golf clubs that might benefit from the venue being moved?

The decision to move the marathon came from the IOC, and it is about the health and safety of athletes. The decision-making process was poor, but the reasoning was ultimately sound. With golf, the demand is coming from a Japanese politician. Money and influence between politicians and golf courses is a much more likely explanation than any concern about health. PGA Tour events every summer see similar temperatures, and there aren't hundreds of players, caddies, and fans collapsing due to heat.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How did golf even become an Olympic 'sport' in the first place?

Probably the same way synchronized swimming did!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm interested why Hokkaido - there's plenty of courses in Karuizawa (just 60mins from Tokyo) which is considerably cooler and more convenient... has something happened or owed to move things up there as the weather is not an unknown?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

On the day of the marathon and golf competition the temperature will probably end up being 22C in Tokyo.

and what if its 36C if marathon runners collapse or die from heat exhaustion is Tokyo going to take responsibility for this are they going to compensate those runners for forcing them to run in this heat!?

And what if it's mid-20s in Tokyo and mid-30s in Sapporo? Upper-30s in Tokyo and mid-20s in Sapporo? Upper-30s in both Tokyo and Sapporo? It happens. Nobody can predict weather months in advance. The best anyone can do is make estimations based on averages. Sapporo probably offers a better chance of slightly cooler, less humid weather, but there is not a lot to be gained by speculating about weather what-ifs. Organizers and athletes have to prepare for any possible conditions in any race. Freak weather is always happening somewhere at any given time.

Even in good conditions, runners sometimes die in marathons. It's an extreme event. Runners have to adjust to conditions. Race organizers should try to ensure the best conditions possible, and they should make as many accommodations for shade, refreshments, and medical support as they can. It would be a tragedy if someone died, but it's not necessarily the fault of race organizers if it happens. Runners make poor decisions sometimes, too. (See Francisco Lázaro, whose death was first attributed to heat, until it was realized that he'd waxed his body, which prevented him from sweating.)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

While Masuzoe is correct that it needs to be moved, this is obviously a hit job on his successor. What’s more, I’d check and see what he’s getting out of this monetarily. He’s never done anything he couldn’t cheat some money out of.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

 but there is not a lot to be gained by speculating about weather what-ifs.

well if you dont think the safety of the athletes is anything to be gained then you probably wont be convinced of anything. FACT is the chances of a cooler less humid race day in Sapporo is much higher than Tokyo for that time of year

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Spitfire had it right in another comment section. Give the games a permanent summer and permanent winter home. Operational finacial support provided by IOC. It will kill all this drama and cut off the deep corruption of bribery within the IOC.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

please list 300M USD worth of schools, hospitals, day care centers, sports facilities that should be closed to pay for it.

The government will just print more money and call it a 'stimulus'...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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