Australian kayaker Jo Brigden-Jones knew the heat at the Tokyo Summer Olympics would be intense. She ready for the weather throughout training by biking in a warm chamber and also sitting in a warm spa. But, the weather still take it some acquiring used to, no least because it’s winter ago home in the northeast Australian state that Queensland.

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“The first couple of days, it felt choose I damaged into a sweat whenever ns stepped outside,” she says. “And with the challenge masks, it’s a little bit suffocating come breathe.”

Many Olympic athletes tried come prepare for the Japanese host city’s scorching summer. The Australian academy of Sport, because that instance, released the Tokyo warmth Project to assist Australian athletes prepare for the conditions in Tokyo. However the too much weather is still taking a toll, creating potentially dangerous problems at buzzpatterson.coms together athletes push themselves to the border in the quest for Olympic gold.


Temperatures have actually soared into the 90s Fahrenheit this week, placing the Tokyo Olympics in the to run for among the hottest on record. It’s likewise making already daunting conditions—athletes must maintain strict social distancing requirements and no spectators room allowed—even harder.

“The conditions in Japan space certainly very challenging, and also it has been so necessary that athletes get in into that atmosphere acclimated, prepared to use cooling strategies and focused on keeping hydration,” says Dr. Peta Maloney, physiologist and senior adviser for the Australian academy of Sport’s Tokyo heat Project.


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Beads of sweat gather on the challenge of China women"s ar hockey goalkeeper Dongxiao Li together she presses a bag that ice against her head during practice hrs at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan top top July 23, 2021.
John Minchillo—AP Photo

How warm is also hot?

The typical temperature in Tokyo has climbed through 2.9 levels Celsius (5.1 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1900, much more than three buzzpatterson.coms as quick as the world’s average, according to a report by the brother Association for Sustainable Sport. The study, title “Rings that Fire: How warmth Could influence the 2021 Tokyo Olympics,” states that athletes are being inquiry to compete in atmospheres that are coming to be “too hostile” because that the human body as climate adjust increases global temperatures.

The 2004 Athens Olympics were the hottest due to the fact that 1964, with a maximum day-to-day temperature of around 93.6 degrees, according to the report. The last summer Olympics, in Rio, had a max daily temperature of simply under 92 degrees.

With the Japan Meteorological company forecasting high temperature of much more than 93.2 levels next week, this year’s Olympics will certainly come close come hitting the record, and may surpass it.

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Brandon Aydlett, a lead meteorologist through the nationwide Weather company office in Guam, tells buzzpatterson.com the athletes won’t uncover much relief in the coming days. “When you have actually weak winds throughout the area the really makes the warmth feel much more oppressive, and also that humidity will become a tiny bit more burdensome on people.”

Maloney, of the Tokyo warm Project, speak buzzpatterson.com that heat and also humidity can have a far-reaching impact ~ above performance. “It’s not unusual for athletes to suffer a reduction in performance of as much as 10%, specifically if they come unprepared and unacclimated.”

She states that contending in high humidity can be specifically difficult, since as humidity rises, it i do not care more challenging for the sweat come evaporate from the skin. “If the sweat just drips turn off the body, it has no cooling effect and also contributes to dehydration and a constant rise in human body temperature,” she says.


July and also August space the hottest months in Japan, and the critical summer Olympics in the country in 1964 were hosted in October. Japan has faced criticism because that describing the country’s weather “mild” and also “ideal” throughout the bidding process; especially due to the fact that Tokyo’s heat has proved deadly in previous years. A heatwave in the summer of 2018 killed much more than 1,000 people. In the last week that July 2019, dozens died and also thousands were hospitalized. Critical summer, Hamamatsu, a seaside city in Shizuoka prefecture on the island that Honshu, tied a national temperature document of 106 degrees.

And, though it may be cold comfort, the heat athletes face is heat with annual averages for Tokyo.


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‘I can complete the match, yet I can die’

The influence of the heat has actually been tough to miss out on for anyone watching the Olympics closely. In ~ the opened Ceremony, part athletes could be viewed laying in the humidity ~ above the stadion floor during the Parade that Nations, check phones, seemingly worn down after simply walking through the stadium.

On the day of the opening Ceremony, Russian archer Svetlana Gomboeva fell down from heatstroke (she recovered to success a silver- medal).

Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa left the court in a wheelchair ~ above Wednesday after ~ retiring from she quarterfinal match against Marketa Vondrousova, the Czech player that knocked Naomi Osaka the end of the Games, since of heatstroke. A Russian player struggled to play in the hot and also humid problems (the warmth index felt like it was around 99 degrees.) “I can finish the match yet I have the right to die,” Daniil Medvedev called an umpire, that asked if he could continue play.

After Medvedev, human being No. 1 Novak Djokovic and other players lobbied because that changes, the worldwide Tennis Federation announced that start on Thursday, tennis matches would begin at 3 p.m. Local buzzpatterson.com rather 11 a.m. To defend athletes indigenous the hottest component of the day.

Tennis players might be few of the most at hazard athletes. The british Association for Sustainable sports report cited tennis, hockey, triathlon and also marathon—all requiring lengthy exposure come the elements—as sporting activities with a high hazard of heat-related illness. In a concession to the heat, marathon and race walking events were relocated some 500 miles north that Tokyo come the island of Hokkaido.


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In 2019, organizers the the gamings launched the Tokyo 2020 Cooling job to attend to the weather—proposing solutions choose installing mist cooling stations and offering frozen desserts. A volunteer top top the press operations team tells buzzpatterson.com the they’ve set up a change system therefore she only requirements to work outside for an hour in ~ a buzzpatterson.com.

Athletes and also onlookers are using a host of tricks to remain cool. Several athletes indigenous Team Canada who concerned watch the women’s street skateboarding occasion on July 26 carried a bag of ice along to keep themselves cool. One reporter spanning skateboarding extended his head v an umbrella, as security from the sun. Team USA flag bears wore battery-powered cooling jackets draft by Ralph Lauren to the opening Ceremony.

Kayaker Brigden-Jones plans to shot to stay in air conditioning between races, and also use things like ice vests and also baths and also cold drinks to save cool. Given the quick length of she races (less than 2 minutes), she states she isn’t too worried about the heat.

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Maloney warns that coaches and also others may likewise be in ~ high-risk of suffering from heat. “It’s frequently the support staff and also coaches that become out in the warm for the longest and are possibly less involved with themselves,” she says.

Maloney claims that prior warmth acclimation is specifically important. “Without sufficient preparation, athletes put themselves at greater risk that heat-related illness,” she says, “especially given we recognize athletes are very motivated and willing to push themselves to the limit.”