Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


In fast-warming world, Tokyo is barometer for future Olympics

The muggy heat-swaddling Tokyo may be a forerunner of Olympic life to come, experts say, urging a rethink to make the world’s oldest sporting spectacular fit for a fast-warming planet.  

The Olympics kicked off in the Japanese capital last week after a year-long delay due to the pandemic, with organizers banning spectators from venues and enforcing a slew of measures to keep the coronavirus at bay.  

While worries over coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have overshadowed other concerns, Japan’s heat and humidity — where temperatures can exceed 35 degrees Celsius — also show how future Games will need to grapple with extremes as climate change bites.  

“Tokyo 2020 will serve as a model for future hotter Olympics and other summer sporting competitions,” said Yuri Hosokawa, an expert on sport and heat risks at Japan’s Waseda University.  

“Leading up to the Games, many athletes around the world have trained under humid heat to acclimatize their body to the environmental stress they will experience in Tokyo,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.  

Tokyo’s mean annual temperature has risen by 2.86°C since 1900, about three times as fast as the world average of 0.96°C, says the British Association for Sustainable Sport.  

Ms. Hosokawa said some new heat mitigation measures, such as on-site medical treatment for serious heat stroke, instigated for Tokyo, could help shape how best to compete in oppressive heat.  

Forget running fast or jumping high — just watching many outdoor sports is now a feat as climate change brings intense rain and heatwaves, spawning hospitalizations, and canned events.  

The Tokyo Games, from July 23 to Aug. 8, coincide with the year’s hottest temperatures in Japan.  

Just last Friday, a Russian archer fainted in the heat during a qualifying Olympic round.  

On Wednesday, tennis world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev said a player “can die” in the heat that is stifling Tokyo. The sports’ governing body later agreed to delay match start times in response to similar complaints by other players.  


Hoping to beat the heat, organizers have deployed a host of tools — from mist-spraying stations to cooling vests — as well as handing out salt tablets and ice cream to weary volunteers.  

The city, known as an innovation hub, has also deployed tech to help mitigate man-made change: be it roads that reflect heat or pavements that absorb water to stay cool, while moving the marathon and race-walk events to the cooler north.  

But climate researchers urged the Olympics authorities to think way further out and change the shape of future summer Games, either by shifting events to cooler seasons, building in more breaks or changing running orders for the fierce weather.  

“They have to start putting heat on the agenda. They’re going to have to start thinking about the best time of the year and the best locations to have these events,” said Mike Tipton from Britain’s University of Portsmouth.  

Mr. Tipton, a professor of human and applied physiology, said the heat was not only diminishing the elite competitors’ performance but also posed grave health risks.  

“People who follow sport should appreciate what climate change is doing to their sport, entertainment, and spectacle. You just won’t have people performing at the same level, in endurance events for example,” he added.  

Makoto Yokohari, an advisor to the Tokyo Olympics, said high-tech measures, such as the heat-blocking pavements, could only have “limited” effects and it would be better to postpone.  

“When it comes to this combination between the temperature and the humidity, I have been warning that Tokyo is the worst in Olympic history,” said Mr. Yokohari, a professor on green urban planning at the University of Tokyo.  

Mr. Yokohari, who has analyzed data back to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, urged the organizers of the next summer Olympics — Paris in 2024 — to act early and address potential challenges.  

France saw record heatwaves in 2019, with temperature jumping to a high of 46°C, causing about 1,500 deaths.  

“If that happens again… then I’m sure the situation in Paris (2024) will become even worse than Tokyo,” said Mr. Yokohari.  

Possible measures: using shade for outdoor events or holding the marathon at midnight when temperatures dip, he added.  


The International Olympic Committee said in e-mailed comments that it would take into account “flexibility and adaptation to the consequences of climate change” in planning future events.  

“A wide range of measures” are being taken by Tokyo to mitigate the heat, it added, such as moving locations for the marathon and shifting start times for others.  

Ms. Hosokawa of Waseda University cautioned that delaying the summer Games to cooler seasons may not work as events such as the triathlon and beach volleyball are made for summer.  

In future, she said, international sports federations would need to agree on what environmental conditions would lead to automatic cancellation of events or races.  

“By knowing the upper threshold, athletes, spectators and stakeholders can train and plan accordingly and share the same expectations,” she added. — Beh Lih Yi/Thomson Reuters Foundation

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!



AllDay Supermarket has tapped PayMaya to power its self-checkout counters with cutting-edge technology to elevate customers’ grocery shopping experience. A first for the Philippine retail industry, AllDay Supermarket...


INFLATION in the first eight months stood at 4.4%, quicker than the central bank’s 4.1% average inflation forecast for 2021. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL...


By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s political allies — at least those who are running for the country’s top...


The Balagtas Station of the Philippine National Railway Clark Phase 1 Project is currently under construction. Photo taken on June 14. — PHILIPPINE STAR/...


A SENIOR economist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said a local bourse’s program for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) is key to...


GNPower Dinginin’s commercial run moved to Q3 2022 By Angelica Y. Yang, Reporter THE management of GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. (GNPD) said the timeline...

You May Also Like


Having a good Instagram marketing agency to back up your Instagram account is an absolute must going into the new year. With competition stronger...


Ivermectin, an existing drug against parasites including head lice, has had a checkered history when it comes to treating COVID-19. The bulk of studies...


As a traditionally rigid insurance industry becomes bogged down by antiquated processes and operations, a handful of industry leaders are seeking to shake things...


US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., will rely on ally countries to supply the bulk of the metals needed to build electric vehicles and focus on...

Disclaimer:, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.

Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!