Tokyo Olympic organizers look for advice to battle heat next year

By Karolos Grohmann

Organizers of next year's Tokyo Olympics are looking for new ways to battle the heat and are asking sports federations for advice, the International Olympic Committee said.

IOC President Thomas Bach said Japanese organizers had sent out a questionnaire to federations to see what measures they take to counter heat at their competitions.

"Part of the discussion (at the IOC Executive Board) was the heat countermeasures, given what we have just seen in Doha a couple of days ago," Bach said, referring to the weather conditions at the world athletics championships in Qatar.

With its suffocating humidity and daytime temperatures hovering around 38 degrees Celsius, the Doha weather has been widely discussed by athletes and officials in the Gulf state.

The marathon and walking races at the worlds began around midnight to minimize the heat's harmful effects.

"Tokyo 2020 informed us that they have reached out to each international federation with a special heat countermeasures questionnaire so that they can benefit from their best experiences," Bach said.

He added that the questionnaire had been sent out prior to the world championships in Doha which run from Sept 27-Oct 6.

"It shows the determination of the organizing committee to address this issue. I am confident that (international athletics' governing body) IAAF will share their experiences in Doha."

Photo: Reuters/ISSEI KATO

Temperatures in Tokyo during July and August, when the city hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, commonly exceed 30 degrees Celsius, with high humidity adding to the discomfort.

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

Among other measures planned are artificial snow to cool athletes and spectators down.

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

"On top of pretty sophisticated measures they (Tokyo organizers) have already presented here today, they and we will continue to work on this," Bach said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Starting early seems reasonable and perhaps having the courses in areas with shade from buildings or trees if possible. The runners themselves may have some responsibility to hold back a bit because if you give 100% in cool weather you may be fine, but if you give the same effort in heat and humidity you may not realize you are overdoing it until you collapse. I suspect very few records will be broken under such conditions.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If Tokyo worries about heatwave so much, then Qatar 2022?

But still, it should open in October, because of lot of festivals in July August, Sep.

Give well priority more to local festivals than Olympics.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Doha has been a disaster, and not just due to the heat - ironically, to meet European television schedules, most events are held at night - it's that no one wants to visit Dubai. Stadiums are mostly empty despite distribution of free tickets. Japan will likely fare better, but proactive measures are critical.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


Your are 100% correct. The Olympics during prime festival season sounds like a disaster. I'm sure Japan is thinking that it is the perfect time to showcase Japanese culture. But the already horrible movement situation with now an extra 2 million people sound like a disaster.

heat countermeasures

The best two I can think of is moving the event date or switching everything to indoor arenas.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Move the Olympics to September?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Doha's Khalifa Stadium is air-conditioned!!

Why doesn't Japan's stadium have this technology?!

For athletes competing inside the stadium at least, one would think it is a basic necessity in Tokyo.

Japanese people often tell me about how advanced Japan's technology is.

I'm sorry... the Olympics is showing it as quite backward.

That snow cooling attempt was ridiculous.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

So now they seek advice 10 months before. Golly gee Wally.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's going to be an absolute disaster, their stubbornness in not moving it forward a month or two is going to go down in history

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just drink more .... pocari sweat?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I often commute in Tokyo at around 6 a.m. In July and August I arrive in the office drenched in sweat. The early morning idea probably won't make a big difference.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Just teach them foreigners a bit of "gaman" and "gambarimas"...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The blame is not solely on Japan for these schedule. The Olympic committees are beholden to their big sponsors, esp. US TV to hold the games in summer. There would be too many clashes with US sports if the games were to be held later, leading to reduced income for the Lords of the Rings. And that's the kind of gold and silver that they don't want to lose!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How about holding it somewhere else? Somewhere cooler? Fukushima?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Get into a time machine and go back 50 years and fight against global warming that people knew about and looked the other way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The best thing is to have ambulances stationed at every street corner during the Olympics.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

LikeJeffLee says, it's just as bad overnight. There's no respite, and holding the marathon at 12 won't make much difference, plus the humidity actually increases at night.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

as they have ignored everyone saying that having Olympics in Aug was a very bad idea, what miracle are they hoping for now with 10 months to go? Very stupid and unfortunately people will suffer from this.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

'Tokyo Olympic organizers look for advice to battle heat next year'

O.K. I'm done. at some point during the last decade we slipped into an alternate dimension of STUPID.

I can't do this anymore. I can't read headlines like this. Just apply some common sense, please.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's going to be an absolute disaster, their stubbornness in not moving it forward a month or two is going to go down in history

1964 October was the perfect timing, this time will be different as could have been and was predicted. The timing is not Japan's decision but one that is pushed by commercial and political interests. Why not ask Trump for some advice. He may come up with some original useful idea via twitter.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So, after five years of concentrated preparation and with less than a year to go they start to ask for advice. Does this mean all the time and money they have spent on discussions and initiatives were just a complete waste of time and money with lots of teeth sucking and failed ideas? I have some advice. Hold the games in October or November.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Winning the bid at all costs was the prime objective, as it will be a huge cash cow for the privileged elite.

Actually taking care of the games/athletes/spectators was obviously a secondary consideration, which is confirmed clearly now with this news.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well don't hold it in October -- it's still too hot. November maybe?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It will be fine. Have plenty of towels and cool water available for spectators. Be ready with efficient cool down protocols for athletes. Seoul and Beijing have hosted games under similar conditions.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Are they f'ing kidding? They've had years to look for advice and solutions for this problem. We're less than a year away and now they're all, Oh what should we do?

Good money after bad, and now people's health and lives are at stake. What a bed of snakes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


I often commute in Tokyo at around 6 a.m. In July and August I arrive in the office drenched in sweat. The early morning idea probably won't make a big difference.

Completely agree. The sun rises at 4:30 a.m. and it’s already hot then. I’ve gone running at 6 a.m. in summer and it’s not comfortable. Maybe they should hold the events from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. It’s still so humid at that time though...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Reruns - Well don't hold it in October -- it's still too hot. November maybe?

the problem is not the heat. It is the unbearable humidity that will kill people in august.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

*Doha's Khalifa Stadium is air-conditioned!!*

Why doesn't Japan's stadium have this technology?!

Because Doha is like that pretty much all year round whereas Japan is only absurdly hot for a couple of months. In those months there is no need to do athletics - up until now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Tokyo Summer Olympics of 2020 is certainly going to put a new spin on Survival of the Fittest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Completely agree that the only sane solution is to move it to October/ November. The only downside is the “US networks” and I guess the US viewership. So the choice is to look good on paper to have it as scheduled and have many athlete and spectator casualties, or have a few upset US networks. But then, money talks and the Japanese will not want to change something once decided.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Athlete's are trained professionals and it gives greater meaning to the winner of gold, silver and bronze. They must adapt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

instead of making all of this seem like rocket science, how about starting the whole thing in SEPTEMBER

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It wasn't Japan's choice to have the Olympics in August. It was the Olympic committee who needed to sell TV broadcasting rights and October was not good as it coincided with USA's major sports events and they could get more money in August.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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