Tokyo, Japan -As Japan prepares to hold the long-delayed Olympic Games on Friday, it is not just the coronavirus pandemic that is causing concern.

People are also worried that the weather – and the extreme heat and humidity of Tokyo’s summer – poses a potential threat to the health of athletes and workers.

Since 2013 in Tokyo Win the bid In order to host the Olympics, people have been worried about the decision to host the Olympics in late July and early August, when the temperature usually reaches about 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is between 70% and 80%, making people feel even hotter.

Climate change will only make the situation more uncomfortable.

Makoto Yokohari, professor of environment and urban planning at the University of Tokyo, told Al Jazeera that according to his research, the Tokyo Olympics will be the “worst case” for the Olympic host city since at least 1986.

He explained that although other host cities have reached temperatures similar to Tokyo, their summer climates are all hot and dry, rather than hot and humid.

“Talking about the risk of heat stroke,” he explained, “this is a combination of temperature and humidity.”

To make matters worse, the typical symptoms of heat stroke are also difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of COVID-19.

“If there are many people with heatstroke, I am very worried about what kind of treatment they will get. I don’t think we have the ability to treat many such people,” he said.

A boy uses a large atomization tower.Organizers of the Olympic Games have adopted a series of measures to help athletes and officials cope with the heat and humidity of the summer in Tokyo [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

In recent years, Japan has experienced the hottest weather in modern history, accompanied by more frequent and intense rainfall and flooding events.

In 2018, at least 80 deaths During the heat wave in Tokyo, and on July 23, the same day as the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, the temperature in Kumagai soared to 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), which is part of the Kanto Plain that includes the capital.

This is the historical record of Japan, although other recent summers have also approached.

The high temperatures in July and August also often resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of people hospitalized due to heat stroke.

The Olympic Games organizer’s decision to host the Olympic Games No audience The pandemic may disappoint both international and local sports fans, but it does alleviate concerns that Japanese seniors and others may succumb to the heat in the stadium.

The latest weather forecast indicates that it will be hot and humid during the Olympics, although there may be a period of rain next week that will help lower the daily maximum temperature by several degrees.

“Almost Safe” to “Dangerous”

Organizers have taken some measures to reduce the risk of athletes, Olympic staff and the media being exposed to heat, or worse, untimely heat waves.

At the end of 2019, despite the strong opposition of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unexpectedly moved the Olympic marathon and walking event from the capital to Sapporo, the northernmost main island of Hokkaido in Japan.

According to reports, the move was made by IOC President Thomas Bach at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha in September 2019, watching with horror the marathon runners collapse in the heat and humidity. Promoted by the TV screen. He wants to avoid the risk of similar scenarios in Tokyo.

Earlier this month, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment announced the English version of the “Heat Stress Index in the Surrounding Area of ??the Competition Venue”, which ranks the heat threats of each Olympic venue by the hour. The five-level scale ranges from blue (almost safe) to red (dangerous).

Organizers of the Olympic Games have also adopted various smaller measures to protect athletes and workers, including extensive provision of sprayers, sunshade benches, parasols, bottled water, air-conditioned rooms, and even ice baths and ice vests.

Archer Mohamed Hammed of Tunisia avoids the sun during a training session in Tokyo [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Some private companies are also involved. Last week, Ralph Lauren launched its “RL Cooling” self-adjusting temperature jacket, which will be worn by the flag bearer of the US team during the opening parade of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Chief Branding and Innovation Officer David Lauren explained in a press release, “Recognizing that Tokyo’s summer is hot, we seek to develop a solution for the American team that combines fashion and functionality-making them the largest in the world. Looks and feels best on one of the stages”.

Despite their efforts, and Focus on COVID-19The organizers of the Olympics did not completely escape criticism of preparations for extreme weather conditions.

Yoichi Masuzoe, who served as the governor of Tokyo from 2014 to 2016 and directly participated in the previous rounds of preparations, raised his concerns on Twitter.

He wrote in Japanese: “Holding the Olympics and outdoor competitions in this hot and humid environment is a battle against heat stroke.” “Marathons and racewalks have moved to Sapporo, but the Tokyo competition will be terrible for athletes. .

“The decision to host the Olympics in midsummer was due to television rights. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held in the fall. This reflects the damage caused by commercialism to the Olympics, and the Olympics are now dominated by money.”

Masuzoe is not the only person to point out the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It is affectionately remembered by many Japanese as a symbol of the country’s economic recovery after World War II. It was precisely to avoid the intense summer heat and humidity that the Japanese capital was held in mid October.

The Hungarian ambassador to Japan, Norbert Palanovics (Norbert Palanovics) recently visited the training camp of the country’s team.

Some of the 176 athletes will participate in sports that are directly exposed to the summer sun, such as triathlon or kayaking.

Athletes participating in outdoor sports are most susceptible to heat and humidity [Luis Acosta/AFP]

The ambassador said that these athletes pay special attention to staying hydrated. They are accompanied by a nutritionist who “fine-tune” the types of food they eat according to the hot weather and humidity.

“The information we received at the embassy is very extensive,” Paranovich said. “The organizers have made a lot of preparations, trying to show the dangers of the Japanese heat wave, so that athletes and teams can be prepared to the maximum.”

Even delegations from countries with very cool climates believe that they are ready.

Rado Mitt, the coordinator of the sports federation and the Estonian team, said that the 33 athletes in his Baltic countries include marathoners, equestrians, rowers, etc. In order to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, they conducted a very hot training in a special indoor facility in Estonia.

He expressed confidence that athletes in his country can cope with the climate challenges they face.

“Everyone knows that the conditions are very difficult, and they are prepared for this situation.”


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