Tokyo: A deadly heat wave in Japan this week has many residents in the Japanese capital questioning the wisdom of staging the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in July and August.
Rescuers here responded to more than 3,000 emergency calls, Wednesday as the heat wave continued to grip Japan. Three hundred and 17 people were rushed to hospitals in the capital, Wednesday. The number of emergency calls broke the previous record of 2,900 set the previous day.
The 2020 Olympics will run from July 24 to August 9 when temperatures in central Tokyo can exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
Tokyo’s Application File to host the 2020 Games reads: “The pleasant weather conditions at this time of year will be ideal for athletes.” But anyone who has spent a summer in Japan’s capital knows that’s not necessarily the case.
“If this is what it’s going to be like for the Olympics, it will be dangerous,” said office worker Akira Nishino as he mopped sweat from his brow Friday near the Imperial Palace.
Nine people died Wednesday and thousands were taken to hospitals across Japan. Temperature rose as high as 40.7C (105F) in central Japan.
In 1964, the Olympics in Tokyo were held in October, mostly to avoid the scorching heat. But that was before the Olympics became big business and TV contracts determined schedules.
Organisers are doing what they can but there is only so much that can be done in an attempt to beat the heat.
During a visit here last week, John Coates, the head of an IOC inspection team, acknowledged that heat will be a huge challenge for the organisers.
“We are mindful that we do have to prepare for extreme heat,” Coates said at a news conference. “You’re not the first country to host the Games in extreme heat. It’s a natural consequence of being in July and August.”
Coates said organizers should explore all options to combat the extreme heat that will likely prevail during the games.
The marathon and a number of other outside sport events will be conducted early in the morning to avoid scorching heat, a plan approved by the IOC, Wednesday showed.
The Japanese government and the Tokyo metropolitan government are planning to lay pavements that emit less surface heat and plant taller roadside trees but many worry it won’t be enough.
- Temperatures can be as high as 40 degrees centigrade which is not ideal for athletes
- This week nine people have died across Japan due to the existing heat wave