Tokyo 2020: The heat is on

Published on August 13th, 2019

As much as sewage was the storyline for the Rio 2016 Olympics, the air temperature is proving to be the “hot topic” as athletes prepare for the 2020 Games. Here are two recent updates:

• Several rowers were reportedly treated for heatstroke at the 2019 World Rowing Junior Championships, which also served as a test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic regatta. Temperatures reached around 34 degrees as athletes were seen “staggering” during the medal ceremonies.

• International Swimming Federation (FINA) officials have vowed to monitor the water conditions in Tokyo after several athletes voiced concerns following the marathon swimming test event at the 2020 Olympic venue. Despite the event starting at 7am, the temperature was already over 30 degrees Celsius (86° F), and FINA rules state that athletes cannot race in open water swimming events when the water temperature is higher than 31 degrees Celsius (87.8° F).

The test events, which offer critical training for athletes and a necessary dress rehearsal for organizers, have been labeled “READY STEADY TOKYO”. All ten Olympic sailing events will have their turn at the Enoshima venue on August 17-22, and the sailors are aware how the temperature will be among their adversaries.

With the upcoming forecast revealing light winds and temperatures in the low 90s F, the athletes have been using cooling devices to help keep their core temperatures down.

“The humidity’s also pretty high so that’s what gets you,” notes Rio 2016 silver medallists Alex Maloney, while her 49erFX teammate Molly Meech shares their plan. “We’ve got a great support team behind us and we’ve been doing heat prep back home which is really helping. We’re also drinking ice slushies and wearing ice vests and using other cooling strategies which are making a difference.”

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